This article is written by Veronika William
You find yourself out of breath after climbing the stairs, again. “Enough is enough,” you declare. You march into your local fitness center and sign up for a membership. Perhaps a pal in the same boat joins you. After all, if you have a workout partner, your chances of sticking with the program drastically increase.
For the first few sessions, you’re unstoppable. A week later, one of you can’t make it. “No problem,” you insist. By the end of the month, you haven’t swiped your membership card in more days than you’re comfortable admitting. By the next month, your gym bag is dusty and you’re five pounds heavier.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. A healthy lifestyle cannot be achieved overnight. It takes some degree of effort to make it a routine. For most of us, starting a new workout regimen is easy. Sticking with it, however, often seems next to impossible. Good news: it’s not.
If you’ve repeatedly tried–and subsequently failed–to move your body on a regular basis, consider these 4 tips to turn exercise into a habit.
1. Reconsider your goal
Although any excuse to exercise is a good one, choosing to get active simply for the sake of dropping that lingering 15 pounds isn’t enough. Why? Because after you’ve reached your goal, you’re more likely to stop exercising. Change your thinking, and make fitness your goal. The goal should be to get into the exercise habit, not simply to lose 15 pounds. This way, you’ll continue with your fitness habit long after you’ve dropped that weight. Your objective should revolve around meeting both mental and physical well-being. For example, studies have proven that exercise is an effective way to calm your mind and body.
Think about this physical activity as a long-term routine that will help you improve your quality of life. Although you can divide your goals and set milestones, chalk out a long-term plan that will focus on physical as well as mental well-being. Celebrate the completion of each milestone. This will motivate you to perform better next time.
2. Start small
Jumping right into five days of hour-long cardio classes each week is a great way to set yourself up for disappointment. Start off with a few gentle walks each week. Then work up to daily walks. Then try jogging. After that, you’ll be ready for those cardio classes. Again, start small. Try one or two a week, and work your way up from there. Successful systems rarely happen overnight. Be reasonable. Start small.
Consider other commitments while setting up goals, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Setting upon practical goals will motivate you to consider this as a continuous activity. Do not over-stress, but do not also be too lenient on yourself.
3. Find ways to overcome common obstacles
It’s dangerously easy to stray from the fitness path. Knowing this, it’s wise to create a backup plan. Frequently, the days we don’t want to work out are our best days. You received a promotion. Congratulations! You decide to “reward” yourself to a day off from the gym. But are you rewarding yourself, really? Nope. Being able to be bursting with energy again? Now that’s a true reward.
Naturally, there are times you’ll be under the weather. If you can, try to move your body gently and keep your activity light. Believe it or not, you’ll almost always feel a little better.
If possible, find ways to involve your kids or other family members so that you have fewer excuses to not exercise. Little members of your family are more enthusiastic than you think and would ensure that you’re always game for a little physical activity!
4. Don’t give up
You’d be surprised by how many workout “fanatics” aren’t, in fact, remotely fanatical about working out. They dislike it just as much as you do. Their secret: they just don’t give up. Remember that it takes time to make exercise a habit. Increasing your fitness level will unquestionably become easier over time. Next thing you know, this habit will take over, and you’ll be fit as a fiddle. Now lace up those shoes and get moving. You can do it!
For your overall health, exercise can make a huge difference in the long run. It can help reduce stress and the risk of developing conditions such as obesity, stroke, arthritis, and even cancer & heart diseases. It promotes better sleep, reduces stress, and boosts some cognitive functions too.
Studies by the NIH’s National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and National Cancer Institute (NCI)proved that adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as physical activity can lengthen your life. Although the importance of exercising cannot be undermined at any age, it serves a purpose during pregnancy and in old age. Also, it should be coupled with a nutritious and balanced diet.
Considering the countless benefits exercise offers, start shrugging off your procrastinating nature, and engage in exercise. After all, health is the real form of wealth.
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