Increase the impact of your intentions by implementing easy tactics that will help you stay on track.
The start of a new year inspires a new resolution. However, if this is the year you finally commit to starting and maintaining an exercise routine, you'll need strategies to support your good intentions. "Research indicates that humans have finite stores of willpower, which are strained by numerous facets of life, such as eating a balanced diet or performing domestic chores. If you deplete your willpower in one area, you will have less to expend in others," Rachel Wilson, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, explains.
Discover an activity that you enjoy.
"If you don't enjoy your workout, you're going to struggle to stay motivated in the long run," Wilson says. Experiment with several forms of exercise until you find one that works for you. Inquire of pals what type of exercise they enjoy and whether you can tag along to give it a try. Wilson suggests starting with easy activities such as walking, biking, or enrolling in classes oriented at beginner exercisers. Bear in mind that "exercise" can entail everything from playing with grandchildren to briskly strolling without breaking a sweat.
Taking it one workout at a time is less intimidating than committing to an impossible goal that will cause you to quit. "Make short-term fitness objectives that you can track for four to eight weeks, such as walking 1,000 additional steps each day or increasing your workout duration by a few minutes," Wilson advises. Once you've established a regular exercise routine, set long-term goals.
If you're returning to exercise after a lengthy period of inactivity or if you've never exercised before, consult your physician first. Then, employ several of the following tactics to maintain your commitment to a healthier lifestyle.
Make time for exercising.
Establishing and adhering to a formal fitness program will hold you more accountable than simply thinking about exercising. Wilson recommends exercising early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Avoid leaving it till the end of the day, when you're out of time and steam.
Gradually raise the intensity of your exercise as your endurance improves. "Begin with ten to fifteen minutes at a time, followed by a five-minute warm-up and cool-down. "Repeat this three or four times a week, adding three to five minutes each time, until you reach 30 to 45 minutes of exercise at a time, with a goal of 150 minutes per week," Wilson advises.
Exercise alongside a friend
"When you arrange exercise with a companion, you are significantly less likely to skip it. This also contributes to the enjoyment of exercise, making it something to look forward to rather than dread," Wilson explains.
Keep track of your progress
Whether you use a smartphone app (such as MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople, both of which are free and encouraged by the United States government) or pen and paper, tracking your progress helps you stay motivated.
"It's far easier to track your improvement over time," Wilson explains. "It assists you in remaining concentrated and motivated."
Similar benefits can be obtained by wearing an activity tracker.
Utilize affirmations and positive self-talk, as well as greater rewards such as a massage or new training gear. "Whatever the reward is, as long as you feel good about it and it does not directly conflict with your aims," Wilson explains.
Change it up
Once you've discovered an activity that works for you, challenge yourself by increasing the duration, intensity, or frequency of your workouts. "If you're bored with your workouts, try a different class, working out with a friend, or switching up your environment, such as walking outside rather than on a treadmill," Wilson says.