Recognize the value of exercise. Numerous academic studies and articles tout the benefits of exercise. Have you ever read any that said exercise is not beneficial?
Be realistic. If you’re out of shape, you’re unlikely to lose 30 pounds or run a marathon in a month. Set a challenging goal that you can reach quickly. An early win will keep you positive and encourage you to pursue your next goal.
Write down your goals.
Research the various types of exercise methods and their pros and cons to see which ones would work best for you, depending on your personal situation. Would you benefit more from high-intensity interval training; strength training; yoga; aquatic exercise; incorporating daily activities like climbing stairs, raking leaves, and mowing the yard into your life; or some other method or combination of methods?
Choose an activity that you are likely to enjoy. If you start with an activity that you dislike, you’re unlikely to stick with it. If you get bored with that activity, replace it with something else.
Measure your progress. When you see benefits from your efforts, you’ll look forward to seeing more.
Know that even seemingly small success may provide significant benefits. The Diabetes Prevention Program, for example, found that modest weight loss—as little as 7 percent of body weight—could help people prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, a major cause of amputation and numerous other health risks.
Decide if you will do better alone or with a partner. For some people, being encouraged or challenged by a friend is helpful; others enjoy the solitude.
Reward yourself when you reach goals. Make sure your reward doesn’t defeat the work you’ve put toward your goal, though. Consider choices such as taking a bubble bath, buying a new piece of clothing, or splurging on a massage.
If you avoid exercise, ask yourself why. Is it because you dislike the activity? Because the time is inconvenient? Would you enjoy doing the activity more outside or inside? Change your routine accordingly.
Make exercise a habit. It’s not easy to do, but making your exercise routine nonnegotiable is one of the most important keys to not quitting.
Don’t let a temporary setback become permanent. If you miss a scheduled exercise time or don’t meet a goal, don’t become discouraged and give up. Get back on schedule immediately and continue working toward your goals.