Thursday, April 19, 2012

6 Tips for Creating an Exercise Plan You’ll Stick To

We all know the best way to lose weight and live healthy is to have a good diet and exercise regularly.  However, sometimes that feels harder than it sounds. Staying motivated when you don't feel like working out, or are feeling stressed or pressed for time, can be a challenge that derails the most detailed of exercise programs. Here are some helpful tips to help you develop an exercise plan you can stick with.

1. Don’t be drastic.  Making an exercise plan is great, but let’s be realistic.  If you’re not a runner and make it a goal to run 5 miles a day, every day, you’ll find it hard to stick to the routine.  You should start small and make gradual increases to your exercise plan.  Start by working out 30 minutes a day, three days a week.  Once you’ve stuck to that for a few weeks, then start working out for longer periods, harder workouts, or more days.  Sure, your progress may be slower to start with, but you’re more likely to actually continue progressing.

Michael Hobson-Personal Trainer, Group Exercis...(Photo credit: Wikipedia)2. Have some fun! (Obviously that's our motto here!)  Treadmills and stair machines are great ways to burn calories fast.  They’re also great ways to get bored and stop going to the gym fast. :-)  If you’re bored and in pain, you’re much more likely to make excuses to skip your workout.  Try new things till you find something you like.  If you’re having fun while you work out, you’re much more likely to keep doing it. 

3. Give yourself a reward.  Is there a great new outfit you want, or an electronic device you've been drooling over?  Develop a reward system for yourself, i.e. “if I stick to my workouts for two months, I can buy that outfit”.  If this doesn’t work, try smaller rewards for smaller achievements like “if I work out three times this week, I get to see a movie”.  If you find you’re rewarding yourself without achieving your goals, get someone you can depend on to hold you accountable (see next tip).

4. Bring along a friend.  People who work out with a buddy are a lot more likely to stick with an exercise plan.  If you have a workout date set up, you’ll feel bad if you cancel it, so you’re more likely to go.  You also have the benefit of a voice of encouragement pushing you along.  Lastly, having someone there to talk to will make the time fly by faster and you’ll get bored less quickly.

5. Mix it up.  We already know that getting bored can keep you from going to work out.  Even if you really like a certain physical activity, you’ll probably still get bored with it eventually.  Instead of doing the same exercise every time, find several activities you like and alternate them. Not only will you have more fun, you'll also get a better workout, since you'll be varying the muscles you use, and probably the intensity as well, which is much better for the body, and helps you keep from hitting that fitness plateau we've all heard about.

JAVIER_LAYUS_PERSONAL_TRAINER_ Español: JAVIER...PERSONAL_TRAINER (Photo credit: Wikipedia)6. Get a personal trainer.  Personal trainers are people you pay to not only develop the best exercise plan for your body and goals, they also help you stay on track by giving you tips, motivation, and are there to hold you accountable.  Yes, personal trainers can sometimes be expensive, but if you’re serious about losing weight and sticking with it, it may worth it to trim fat in other areas of your budget.  Plus, that money you spent will be more of a motivator to keep going. (See our previous article, Should You Hire A Personal Trainer? for more on this tip if this interests you.)

Being healthy is a commitment, and like anything worth doing, it takes a bit of effort, and it will take a little time, but if you find a workout plan that works for you, you’re well on your way to a healthy, fit new you!  (For some more ideas for staying motivated, and some fun ways to work out, check out

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