How Can You Stick To Your Exercise Program?
We know that over half of people who begin an exercise program quit within
the first six months. Many people stop long before that. Why do people
drop out? How can you keep yourself going?
Time management is vital if you are going to adhere to your exercise program.
It is a good idea to set aside specific times in the week when you can
exercise. Getting into a routine will aid in exercise adherence. Look
over your commitments each week – Sunday nights are a good time
for doing this. Figure out when you can workout during the week and put
it on your calendar. Writing it down makes it harder to back out. Trying
to exercise at the same time is one technique that can help.
Lack of energy is another excuse that is often used. There are days when
you will not feel like working out. It is critical to exercise even when
you don’t feel like it. This is the time when motivation becomes
Exercising with others can also improve your adherence. This can be a
group or with a partner. If you have an “exercise appointment”
with someone, you are less likely to let someone else down.
Analyzing your expectations is also important. If you have unrealistic
expectations about what you can achieve and how quickly, you may get disappointed
and quit. It is important to be realistic about where you can end up.
Improve your self-confidence about exercise. Think about previous successes.
Do not dwell on times when you started and stopped. If you are new to
an exercise program, think about a time when you began something new and
stuck with it. Use your weekly successes to build your confidence. Write
down what you do each week and display it where you can see it daily.
Keep a log of your daily activity. You will see progress quickly.
Keep the exercise routines new and exciting. It is easy to get bored with
a routine. Try new classes, get new lifting programs and mix up what you
do. Listening to music is another way to keep things exciting. Choose
upbeat music – think of exercise time as your time to listen to
a new CD.
Motivation is what drives a person to action. It keeps us going and helps
us achieve our goals.
Some motivation is intrinsic, that is motivation that comes from us. It’s
when we reward ourselves with a hot bath for cleaning the house. Other
motivation is extrinsic, or outside of us. It’s when you get a paycheck
for working. Intrinsic motivation is more under our control and can help
us accomplish difficult tasks. With exercise, you would focus on the process
and your enjoyment of it. Extrinsic motivation can be a good motivating
force but we have not control over it and it can disappear at any time.
Sometimes both types are functioning with the same behavior. You might
use extrinsic motivation if you offer yourself a reward (not food) for
completing a session or a week of sessions.
Motivation is a big factor in exercise adherence. It is important to keep
yourself motivated. There are several things you can do to keep yourself
Set a reasonable goal for what you want to achieve – feeling better,
walking without puffing, climbing stairs without knees hurting, building
muscle mass, keeping heart healthy. List 6 reasons why you WANT to exercise.
Post these goals some place where you will be sure to see them.
Create a contract with yourself – write down your goals. Promise
yourself a reward. Build in a penalty.
Give yourself small rewards for each week’s achievement. Think of
things such as watching a movie, buying good tea or coffee, taking a hot
bath, reading a book.
Use self-talk to convince yourself that you can do this. Do not let negative
thoughts run over and over in your head.