After many years watching certain people consistently exercising day after day I took a poll and asked them what fitness habits keep them motivated to continue. I’ll share the top ten so that you can learn from their success.
#1. Plan it into your schedule. Knowing when you will be exercising helps you to prepare: what to eat beforehand, what clothes to wear, and what to take along. Many work out very early in the morning and find that their day doesn’t feel interrupted. Some snack midmorning to prepare for a walk during their lunch break.
#2. Enjoy what you choose. It’s hard to maintain a long-term routine when you don’t like it. If you’re dreading your workout, it’s time to try something different. Don’t feel guilty if you are not interested in something your friends enjoy-each of us has a different personality and there are plenty of options to fit each one.
#3. Write it down. Many consistent exercisers write in an exercise log or journal every day. This has several advantages. For example, when you feel extra tired or sluggish you can look back to see if you overdid an activity or if it’s something else, such as not enough sleep. Journaling also allows you to see progress over time, which you may not realize otherwise. Journals also keep you accountable-an empty journal means nothing gained.
#4. Pick a partner. If you have someone who exercises with you, you have an accountability partner and someone to keep you motivated. If you can’t think of anyone to exercise with, exercise at a gym and you’ll soon get to know the regulars. Once they’re used to seeing you, they’ll keep you accountable and motivated.
#5. Take advantage of hidden opportunities. Many times convenience wins in our hectic world, but our fitness loses. Try making every day tasks harder by taking stairs or parking in a faraway spot. Carry your groceries in a basket instead of a cart or wash the car by hand. These little activities can add up to big fitness. Those who exercise regularly look for opportunities to get stronger.
#6. Be realistic. If you know you’re not able to exercise a full workout one day, don’t stress about it. Try to aim for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. If you know you’ll miss a day of exercise, exercise a little more the day before and/or catch up the following day. A good rule to remember is “Something is always better than nothing.”
#7. Be around people you want to be like. If you’re like me you feed off other’s energy. If I’m around people who don’t exercise, they influence me, and it’s the other way around, too. Join a health club, cycling club or exercise class in your area. You’ll be driven by their enthusiasm and they’ll be driven by yours.
#8. Listen to your body. Consistent exercisers are rarely injured because they are in-tune with their bodies. If your body is telling you to take a day off, do it and you may be surprised at how much better you feel the next day. Don’t forget to let your body recover from hard exercise, and if you have pain anywhere you may need to lay off the exercise for a while until you heal. It takes much longer to recover from an injury than to prevent one so if you feel any hint of possible injury take some time off.
#9. Think variety. There are so many activities to choose from, why limit yourself to just one or two? Keep trying something entirely new every few weeks, or do your favorite activity in a different place. Even if you’re in great shape you may discover muscles you didn’t know you had before!
#10. Consider a Personal Trainer. If you feel you can’t stay consistent with an exercise program, no matter what you do, try a Personal Trainer. Look for a motivational, reputable one in your area. You may only need a few sessions to get going, or you may want to meet with them once a month to keep you accountable. Their knowledge and ideas may give you just the enthusiasm and accountability you need to get started and stay on track.