7 tips for starting an exercise program
Most attempts at getting into exercise fail after about 5 weeks. Don't join those statistics- optimise your chance of success by applying these 7 tips;
1. Give it 6 weeks before you expect to see results.
In truth, it takes some time. Commit to getting regular exercise done for 6 weeks before you worry about results. You may well be pleasantly surprised when you notice some improvements before then but don't expect much. Even the various quick transformation programs are around 9-10 weeks. In the main it's about building habits and a sustainable routine. Put energy into that. Just be an adult and suspend the need for instant results.
2. Temper your enthusiasm and start moderately
Over enthusiasm kills new exercise programs. Jumping into a 1 hour class might be a buzz but you may not be able to walk the next day. Start moderate so that you feel you are doing something but not so hard that it is torture, you can build the intensity once you’re body has adapted. You don’t want to associate exercise with pain. You can always build on an initial moderate intensity gradually which will give you that sense you're moving forward- which in itself is great encouragement and motivation.
3. Plan – Don’t go by how you feel.
By all means listen to your body but in general stick to your plan. You don't want to be at the mercy of your motivation and moods. Inevitably they'll ebb and flow. A good program or plan eliminates decisions. You just get on with exercising at a level, and in a way, that'll benefit you. Over time you'll trust that mood and motivation aren't as critical or limiting as you think. They can both be transformed quickly by effective exercise. If the way you exercise is too negotiable you won't develop a lasting habit or get any significant results. Naturally it's wise to alter plans to cater for things like injuries or if it's proving just too demanding or long. Still though there is great benefit in a plan.
4. Go for something you like, or at least don't hate.
You may not find something you love but at least if you like it at the beginning the love can grow. If you loath it though, you’ll struggle to ever love or really like it. Don't be too swayed by the science or marketing hype. Although a particular form of exercise might be fantastic for you, if you just know it's not up your alley then it likely won't be. Although some discomfort can be part of effective exercise if it never becomes something you get enjoyment from you're not likely to do it for long. A simple question that may help to discern with exercise choice is, "Can I see myself doing this in 5 years?" Avoid asking that too soon though, sometimes you need to give things a decent try before you can make a sound judgement.
5. Make it time effective
People often blame lack of time for not exercising. It just makes sense to make it time effective. Long workouts can not only be impractical to fit in but can be really hard to get motivated to start on. You can do so much in 30 minutes provided if you've got a good plan and move with some urgency. Avoid too much fiddling around with equipment, make it so you're always doing something productive. The more time effective your exercise routine is, the greater the chance you'll stick with it for the long haul. Read this post for: 6 ways to make your exercise time effective. And this one explains how you can make a busy schedule work in your favour.
6. Don’t start a new diet and exercise program at the same time.
Sounds negative but it’s about being realistic about the amount of change which is manageable and sustainable given your busy lifestyle. A major reason that people struggle to stick with exercise is that lifestyle change is difficult. If it wasn't there wouldn't be a massive industry based around it! You need to focus and make a greater priority of the things you seek to change. Spread yourself too thin with your focus and you'll likely fail at several things, rather than having your attention and intention honed in on something challenging. Make a change, embed it as habit, then you can move on to the next goal.
7. Making turning up a priority.
With so much information about exercise out there it's easy to get thrown from the basics of what it takes to get fit. And the most essential of the basics is turning up. It doesn't matter how hard you go or how brilliant your program is if you don't get it done regularly. Do something often enough and you automate it i.e. it becomes habit. You'll barely have to think about it. As Woody Allen said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Although it's a seemingly simple task don't underestimate what it takes to get yourself exercising when it's not habitual. Get organised, consider the likely challenges. Give attention and thought to getting your shoes on and getting out the door. It's a large part of what makes personal training work.
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