Fitness

Tips for Maintaining a Successful Exercise Routine

Last updated: Jan 10, 2011

 

By Joy Pierce Mathews for Summit Medical Group
Reviewed by Michael R. Dunne, DPT, ATC


1. Begin with a visit to your physician.
Tell your doctor if you’re about to start a new exercise routine, especially if you’ve been inactive. He or she will recommend that you have a physical examination to preempt unwanted surprises with your health and ensure you can exercise safely.
2. Make good health your goal.
Although having a smaller waistline or fitting into a smaller size has appeal, remember that your overall health is what matters most. Vow to not make excuses, commit yourself to a lifestyle change, and start new habits that will improve your health and outlook.
3. Start slowly and gradually build your fitness.
A gradual approach to fitness will help ensure that you maintain your routine and prevent injuries.
4. Eat for energy.
Be sure that your overall diet is well balanced to give you the energy you need throughout the day and during your workout. Since eating just before you exercise can lead to cramping, consume an easily digestible food such as a banana at least an hour before you work out.
5. Keep a written log of your exercise schedule and set goals.
In addition to being a good reminder of what you’ve done at each workout, a written log will give you a chance to work toward a goal and see what you’ve accomplished as you progress through the weeks and months.
6. Exercise at the same time each day.
Establishing a routine often makes it easier to stick with an exercise program.
7. Exercise with a friend whenever possible.
Walking or running with a friend will give you the chance to visit as well as ward off boredom. Many exercisers suggest their workout flies by when they have a partner.
8. Vary your route if you walk or run.
Check out new neighborhoods, tracks, and parks. Changing the scenery can add interest to your routine and help prevent boredom.
9. Warm up, work out, and cool down with each exercise session.
Starting slowly and gradually increasing the intensity of your workout is a good way to prevent injuries.
10. Include music in your routine.
Music is a good distraction from the monotony of exercise. Use faster tunes to boost the intensity of your work out and calmer music to help you cool down.
11. Consider safety.
Choose routes with little traffic. Walk or job on sidewalks whenever possible. If you exercise outside, schedule your workout during the day. When exercising at dawn, dusk, or at night, wear bright colors and reflectors so that you can be easily spotted.
12. Have inclement weather alternatives in place.
Purchase exercise videos and useful indoor equipment and arrange a place to workout at home when necessary. Keep schedules for your local indoor pool and gym handy.
13. Vary your exercise.
Try yoga or tai chi for stretching and balance; brisk walking, running, jogging, and Spinning for endurance; and weight training to build strength. Cross training or combining a variety of exercises in your weekly routine is the best way to boost your metabolism and ensure overall strength and fitness. Make a point of adding extra activities in your day such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking instead of driving to lunch. Remember that all your activity counts!
14. Dress appropriately for your activity.
Layer clothes in winter for warmth and comfort. Wear fast-drying fabrics such as polyester blends that wick away moisture and help keep you warm. Be sure your shoes fit well and are made for the activity you’ve chosen.
15. Focus on a pleasant memory, thought, fantasy, or activity while you work out.
Some exercisers find inspiration in positive self talk as they work out.
16. Have a positive outlook about weather.
Exercising outside in light rain, on cloudy days, and even cold, windy days can invigorate you and make you feel more in touch with the elements.
17. Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is essential for getting a good work out. If you haven’t had enough sleep, either take a rest day or modify your work out so that it’s less vigorous.
18. Drink at least 2 litres of water per day.
Remember that your body is 70 percent water. If you haven’t had enough to drink, your workout is likely to fall short of your expectations.
19. Listen to your body.
If you’re tired or beginning to get a cold, take a break. Your body needs time to rest and repair.
20. For added physical activity and sociability, take a dance class.
Dancing provides a terrific aerobic work out and burns up to 300 calories an hour. Remember that increased physical activity of any kind will help keep you healthy.
21. Don’t let anything come between you and your fitness routine.
Since exercise is one of the most important things you can do to maintain good physical and mental health, be sure to include it in your daily routine no matter what scheduling complications you encounter. Make exercise as essential as bathing, brushing your teeth, eating, and sleeping.
22. Eat a healthy diet.
A healthy, low-fat diet that is combined with regular exercise can help guard against obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, anxiety, osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease.
23. Reward yourself!
Take a hot bubble bath, get a massage, or get a new outfit to celebrate your hard work.

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