There is no place more crowded than the gym on January 2nd. How many of us have set out to exercise more as part of our New Years’ Resolutions? The gyms love it because they get a flood of new memberships, knowing that only a percentage of their new clientele will last past January. In fact, the gym regulars will often avoid the gym during these first few weeks, knowing that when they return in February they can re-claim their favorite elliptical machine without the wait.
So how do we become one of the ‘regulars’? How do we last past January? Knowing is just half the battle. We can know how important exercise is – especially reducing our risk for chronic diseases. In fact, an obese individual who regularly exercises is at lower risk for all-cause mortality than a sedentary, lean individual! That is quite significant. So the benefits of exercise extend beyond weight management. We also know exercise can help with stress management, can help our sleep habits, and can help our mood. Exercise can be even more effective than some anti-depressants. The benefits of exercise are abundant.
Here are some tips for not only starting that exercise program back up, but keeping it going:
- Set a goal! If we don’t have a goal, we’re not very likely to achieve it. Goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Keep this in mind when deciding what your goal should be. I believe keeping them realistic is one of the most important factors. For example, if you have not been exercising, setting a goal to exercise 7 days a week, 60 minutes at a time may not set you up for success. Instead, start with 2-3 times a week for 20-30 minutes at a time, and slowly build from there. This will make you feel more confident in your ability to achieve a goal.
- Find something you enjoy! I cannot tell you how many people tell me they just don’t like getting on the treadmill. I say, great, don’t get on the treadmill! There is nothing magic about running. If you find something you enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with it. Some individuals find exercise classes much more engaging, like a spin class or a Zumba class. Others find getting outdoors much more enjoyable, like snowshoeing or skiing in these winter months. Whatever it is, find something you enjoy that gets your heart rate up.
- Get support! Engage family or friends. Or use an online support system such as a blog through myfitnesspal.com. Others find social media as a great support network. Whatever it is, research shows we are 4 times more likely to achieve our goals if we have support. So get a running buddy, or engage a co-worker to go on a lunch time walk. It can help with accountability, and make it more fun.
These are three simple tips to turn you into a regular exerciser. You can do! You just want to set yourself up for success.