10 Simple Tips for Sticking to Your Exercise Routine

Adhering to an exercise routine can be challenging. With roadblocks like busy schedules, cold weather, and plain boredom, sometimes even the most committed exercisers can find themselves wanting to throw in the towel. Fortunately, there are ways to make exercise less of a hassle so you can stick to your routine and meet your fitness and weight loss goals. 

Keep Workout Equipment at Home

For those days when you just don't feel like going to the gym, having exercise equipment at home can help you to stick to your routine. For more modest budgets, something as simple as a set of 10-pound dumbbells will allow you to fit in a quick circuit workout from the comfort of your own home. For a larger budget, equipment such as an exercise bike or elliptical kept in the basement or a spare bedroom will allow you to get your cardio without leaving the house.

Practice Moderation 

It isn't a bad idea to do everything in moderation, and that includes exercise. Creating a program that includes an adequate, but manageable amount of exercise will be easier to stick to than an intense program requiring hours of physical activity every day. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, performed five days per week, or 15 minutes of vigorous exercise, done five days per week, to maintain optimal health. A half-hour walk after dinner each evening or a 15-minute jog at a brisk pace are enough to meet this recommendation, and neither requires an excessive time commitment. 

Work with a Personal Trainer

If you're struggling to find the motivation to stay active, working with a personal trainer might be the solution you need. A personal trainer not only holds you accountable for showing up to exercise; he or she can also teach you about proper exercise form to prevent injury and help you to create a doable plan that doesn't overwhelm you and cause you to give up on being active. Consider a personal trainer an investment in your health. 

Step Outside

Heading to the gym might seem like the best way to get some exercise, but if you're bored with indoor workouts or just don't want to take the time to drive to the gym, stepping outside for a workout can keep you motivated. A 2017 study in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology found that compared to when they walked on a treadmill, women who walked outdoors experienced a more positive mood and found the exercise to be less strenuous. The women also enjoyed walking outdoors more than they enjoyed using the treadmill to run. Exercising outdoors can make working out a more positive experience and therefore help you to stay active. 

Plan Activities that Involve Exercise 

Exercise doesn't have to mean spending your free time in the gym or going outside to exercise alone while your family and friends have fun; you can actually turn exercise into a fun event. Plan weekend hikes on the local trail, or go for a family bike ride. You can also enjoy family trips to the zoo, where you will surely get your 10,000 steps per day, or take the kids to the trampoline park and join in on the fun. Making active hobbies a part of your lifestyle takes the work out of exercise. 

Sign up for an Event

Challenge yourself to compete in an athletic event, such as a local 5K, to give yourself a reason to exercise. It might be hard to find the motivation to go for a run a few times per week, but having an event to prepare for can keep you committed. Pay the sign-up fee for the event well in advance, so you've made an investment and won't be tempted to give up on your training and drop out of the competition if training gets tough. 

Buy a Foam Roller

If sore, aching muscles are keeping you from being active, a foam roller is a viable solution. A 2015 study in the Journal of Athletic Training found that when people used a foam roller immediately after, a day after, and two days after doing squats, they experienced significantly less tenderness in the quadriceps muscles and improved their physical performance on activities that can be impaired by sore muscles. Using a foam roller can relieve the muscle soreness that prevents you from returning to the gym after a tough workout. 

Develop a Schedule

Schedule your workouts just like you would a meeting for work or a lunch date with a friend, and you'll be able to stick to them. It might be helpful to schedule a workout for the same time each day such as at 6 a.m. before work, or at 5 p.m. right after work. On the other hand, you might prefer looking at your calendar each week and penciling in a few workouts at times when you don't have other commitments. 

Break Exercise into Increments 

You may have difficulty finding 30-minute chunks of time to exercise, but that doesn't mean you should give up on exercise altogether. Find small blocks of time throughout your day, such as 10 or 15 minutes, and squeeze in a quick workout. This could mean walking the dog for 10 minutes before and after work and then squeezing in a quick circuit workout with weights while watching TV in the evening. Breaking exercise up into multiple shorter stints has been found to be effective. In fact, a 1995 study in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that when compared to people who exercised in one longer bout, those who did multiple shorter bouts of exercise were more likely to adhere to exercise. Those who performed several shorter stints of exercise also tended to lose more weight.  

Attend a Group Exercise Class

If your routine is feeling mundane, try a few group exercise classes at a local gym or community center. There are a variety of options, ranging from spinning classes to kettle bell classes. Trying a new class can prevent boredom from sabotaging your fitness goals, and you'll also have the opportunity to socialize with others who are committed to being active.

Strategies such as attending a group exercise class can make exercise fun and help you stay committed to being active. Other strategies, such as keeping physical activity enjoyable with outdoor exercise or making exercise manageable with shorter bouts of physical activity, can also make exercise adherence easier. Any one of the strategies discussed herein can be helpful, but combining a few strategies that work for you can have a significant impact on your ability to stay committed to being physically active.

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