7 Tips for Keeping to a Consistent Exercise Program
The following tips are from the introduction to
Fitness Tracker 2-Year Exercise Log with Points.
Copyright 2014 by Mark Walters
Tracker Book LLC
We all know how difficult it can be to keep to a regular and consistent exercise program in the midst of busy lives and entertainment distractions. How many of us have had those all-too-familiar New Year's resolutions of getting into shape, only to abandon those plans months later like an unused pair of running shoes at the back of the closet.
I am not a personal trainer nor professional athlete, just a recreational fitness enthusiast who wished to boost my frequency of exercise and made sure I put in my workout time. A few years back, when I found myself constantly falling off the fitness bandwagon as I am sure as happened to many of us, I decided to change this once and for all by keeping track of my exercise. I did a little bit of research, reviewed the exercise fundamentals, and designed some charts into what became Fitness Tracker 2-Year Exercise Log with Points. The following are some ideas from the introduction of my book that I'd like to share that I hope will help others stay motivated in keeping to a regular, consistent exercise program and to achieve real results.
1. Use a Fitness Tracking Tool to Record Exercise Participation
To stay committed to a fitness program, many fitness experts recommend people use a fitness tracking book or electronic application to help record exercise and make sure they put in exercise time daily, weekly, and monthly. Recording exercise helps individuals be more aware of whether they are keeping up with fitness and encourages them to be more disciplined in their exercise routine and making sure they put in fitness time.
It’s up to the individual to choose a fitness tracking tool that has the right amount of sophistication and information to record. Some may simply wish to record their exercise time, or keep track of the amount of miles they walk, jog, or bicycle. Some may prefer a fitness journal which allows space to record specific information about the exercise or other details about the outing. Others may want a more detailed accounting, such as knowing exactly how many calories they burned, or even monitoring heart rate and other health specifics. Choose a method that confirms to your level of interest, of whether you want to keep things simple or get more technical. While some may favor digital applications for their convenience and cutting-edge technology, others will prefer traditional pen-and-paper exercise logs because the mere act of writing can feel more tangible and real. The method that conforms to your preference and that best helps you succeed is the right choice.
2. Start Your New Fitness Program Gradually
Your first inclination may be to rush into a vigorous workout routine right away in a desire to get into shape quickly. Instead, it is recommended that you start your new fitness program slowly and to gradually increase your endurance and intensity of workouts. You will get you in shape, lose weight, and improve physique, but only if you do your part and put in exercise time consistently and regularly. Exercise ought to be a regular part of your life, and if engaged in consistently over time, you will see dramatic results.
Boosting frequency of physical activity will involve changing sometimes deeply ingrained habits and routines so that you rearrange your time and priorities to ensure you incorporate exercise as a daily component of your life, a process that takes time and perseverance. We need to return to the fundamentals of exercise, which calls for regular and consistent physical activity. If we persist in making this significant change to incorporate more physical fitness into our lives on a regular basis, it will put an end to our bad habit of starting and then stopping fitness programs. Often our falling off the fitness bandwagon is a result of having unrealistic expectations of how quickly we can lose weight and get in shape. If we don't acquire significant results right away, we get discouraged and drop the program altogether, instead of persevering with our fitness program to experience the dramatic results that do occur after continual exercise.
We all are cognizant of maintaining our proper weight or even desiring to lose weight, but don’t expect your weight to drop immediately after starting a fitness program, for as we exercise more we build more muscle weight, so initially you are simply replacing fat pounds with muscle pounds with no net loss in weight. But more muscle weight is of course advantageous. Besides the obvious benefit of providing more strength, stamina, balance, and a more toned physique, having more muscle weight also helps the body burn calories even more efficiently the next time you work out. So over time your weight should be expected to decrease if you've been keeping to a consistent workout schedule and nutritious diet.
3. Use Cues and Routines to Improve Habits
Habits can be deeply ingrained and may require a good amount of persistence to change for the better. One simple but effective method of changing habits is to use cues, or triggers, to help signal to yourself when it is time to work out. Cues can be either objects or time signatures that help signal to us when it is our workout time. Objects consist of workout apparel and exercise equipment. The simple process of changing into clothes that are specifically devoted to exercising is a clear signal that we are now entering workout mode. For many people, a critical time for changing into exercise apparel is immediately upon coming home from work, for if our first inclination is to instead change into lounge apparel and relax for a bit on the couch, the temptation to forego exercising altogether only increases. Reserving a premium space in your closet or dresser especially for workout clothes further signifies your commitment to a fitness program. Blending up a protein smoothie or getting ready the music player and other exercise accoutrements helps us further get into the exercise mindset. Time cues are also a very powerful signal for keeping us on track with exercise. For instance, perhaps there is a certain program we enjoy watching. After the episode has ended, we know it is time to get focused and get in our exercise.
4. Schedule Exercise Time to Balance Calories
As mentioned in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ "2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans," to maintain proper weight control, one should balance “calories in” with “calories out.” Going along with this approach, schedule your workouts especially around times when you know you will be consuming more calories than usual. For instance, if you know you will be attending a holiday party on Saturday night where you are sure to consume an abundance of good food and desserts, be sure to get in your workout time on Friday or Saturday before the party so you can balance your calories and stay on track.
5. Buy Fitness Apparel to Add Incentive
Exercise doesn’t need to be expensive; you can get just as good a workout walking, jogging, or using equipment you probably already have on hand, such as a bicycle, jumprope, or any other item tucked in the back of your closet. At the same time, consider purchasing just one or a few new low-cost fitness items to boost your exercise motivation. Acquiring a cool new pair of athletic shoes or other apparel will make it that much easier to want to get out and work out.
6. Exercise Individually or with a Group
Some may feel most comfortable exercising individually, doing activities that he or she enjoys and that best fits into one’s personal schedule. But others will find benefit when working out with a group, because doing so can boost your commitment to staying on track with your exercise program because others are working out alongside you, making sure you keep up with your program. Find which method works for you, or perhaps engage in both individual and group workouts to mix it up and keep it interesting day after day.
7. Listen to Music While Working Out
For many people, music can stir within us a strong emotional response, whether it's motivating and uplifting, soothing and relaxing, or just provides company to us in the background. All of these reasons can be good reasons to incorporate music into your workouts. Depending on whether you need some edgier hard rock to pump you up while you lift weights or some calming meditative tones as you perform yoga or tai chi, you can assemble different playlists to respond to your different workouts and keep it interesting day after day. Be certain not to wear headphones while participating in activities that require a greater awareness of surroundings to ensure safety, such as riding a bicycle in the midst of traffic or jogging at night. Keep to bike paths, jogging trails, and other fitness areas to make sure that you stay safe so that you enjoy exercising for many years ahead.
The information presented in this newsletter is meant for general purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any ailments. If you have a question about exercise or nutrition that pertains to your specific condition, please consult your physician before beginning an exercise program or changing your diet.
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