Top Ten Tips to Develop Exercise and Running Habits

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Pixmac000053279685Research tells us that the number one reason that people stick to a new exercise program is social support. Goal setting also creates success, as well as self-confidence AND self-compassion. Read the following top ten tips that will help keep you on track while developing your exercise habit:

1. Find a workout buddy

This can be someone at your office or someonein your family. It can also be a family dog OR you can volunteer to walk dogs for the SPCA or the Humane Society. A dog can be an even more effective exercise companion than a person because people feel responsible for giving their dog exercise. They may let themselves down, but they will be sure to take good care of their pet.

2. Make exercise appointments.

Book them on your calendar much as you would an appointment with your dentist or anyone else.

3. Set an achievable, specific short term goal.

This should be on a weekly basis and can be as simple as I will walk 1 minute every hour between 9am to 5pm on Monday through Thursday. This goal needs to be fixed in time (what days of the week, for how long and even at what time). The more specific the goal is the better as it is easier to follow through.

4. Give yourself rewards.

Let’s say you achieve your 1 minute walking goal per hour. Promise yourself a treat that does not involve eating. For example, promise yourself to take a luxurious bath with candle light and soft music on Sunday night or something like that. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge your accomplishments.

5. Whenever you skip out on a planned exercise session, take a moment and determine why it happened.

For example, if you planned to exercise after you get home from the office and you are simply too tired and skip it, you know that after work is not a good time for you to plan your exercise. Next time, choose a different time slot. Consciously become aware of the barriers to your best laid plans and brainstorm working Plan Bs.

6. Do NOT beat yourself up if you miss an exercise session.

Learn from it. Exercise self-compassion. Be understanding and use the knowledge to create success next time.

7. Find out WHAT motivates you?

What are the reasons WHY you want to start and keep up an exercise program? Are you concerned for your health? Do you want to look better? Do you want more energy? Look inside yourself and identify your reasons…not the ones put forth in the ads on TV, but rather the reasons that speak to your own heart. Create pictures of how your life will be better if you accomplish your health and fitness goals. Visualize how you will look and feel and what your life will be like if you accomplish your goals. Each time you feel like skipping out on your exercise, remind yourself of the reasons why it is important to you and you can ignite your motivation again.

8. Add variety.

If you start getting bored, switch up your activities. Change the location of your walks, change the time of day, buy new workout clothes, anything to shake up the routine and keep it fun and interesting.

9. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

You cannot exercise effectively if you are sleep deprived. Lack of proper quality and quantity of sleep also affects weight gain. A good exercise and sleeping program go hand in hand.

10. Eat and drink properly.

You need to be sufficiently hydrated to exercise effectively. Even 1/2 of 1% of dehydration will impair your energy and coordination. Drink lots of water and make sure you have a light snack both before and after training to avoid blood sugar swings and to adequately fuel your muscles. This is important even if weight loss is your goal.

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, Speaker, Author, Wellness & Fitness Educator, Contributing editor, IDEA Fitness Journal

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