Eight Tips for Establishing a Consistent Exercise Routine
By Brian Acton
A new year is the perfect time to commit to a new exercise routine. But if you aren’t accustomed to consistent physical activity, you may have trouble starting or sticking with a fitness regimen. To commit to a long-term exercise routine, you’ll need to plan effectively, establish good habits, and stay engaged.
Here are eight tips for establishing a consistent exercise routine.
- Establish Your Goals
Many times, people set nebulous goals, such as “get in better shape” or “be more active.” But no matter what you want to accomplish, your odds of success are better if you have specific goals, such as:
- I want to run a 5K in July
- I want to lose 10 pounds this year
- I want to exercise four times a week
Clearly defined goals will help you set up an action plan to achieve them.
- Do Your Research
Once you have goals in mind, you need to determine how you’re going to reach them. Depending on your knowledge of fitness and exercise, you might want to do some online research or reading to develop a fitness routine. You may even need to talk to a professional, such as a personal trainer, to help you design an exercise program. If you need to join a gym or get some equipment to prepare, now’s the time to start that prep work.
- Create a Routine
Once you know what you need to do, you should write down your exercise routine and use it as your action plan. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity every week. You could use that as a start point, or use your own guidelines. Make sure to write down the specific exercise(s), the amount of time they’ll require, and when you can do them.
- Set Aside Time
Now that you have a routine in place, you need to find time to follow it. Make sure to block off time on your calendar – otherwise, it’s too easy to procrastinate or forget about your commitment. Whether you need a paper calendar on your fridge or calendar reminders on your smartphone, make sure you’ve logged time to set aside for exercise.
If you’re short on time, replace longer workout sections with short bursts of exercise.
- Start Slow
If you’re just starting (or getting back into) exercise, you should avoid overexerting yourself. Start slow – for example, with light weights or a short walk - before increasing intensity. Over time, you can gradually increase the difficulty of your workout. While starting an exercise routine should
be challenging, it shouldn’t put you at risk of injury.
- Switch It Up
Doing the same exercise day in and day out can get boring. Once you’ve been exercising for a few weeks or months, start working in some new activities to challenge yourself. If you usually jog, try swimming or biking. Different activities can help you stay engaged.
- Take Breaks
Whether you’re a couch potato or a seasoned athlete, the body needs rest. Make sure to work in rest periods (perhaps a rest day) into your routines so your body and muscles can recover. Make sure to stretch!
- Track Your Progress
Whether you’re trying to lift heavier or run a 5K, track your progress. At times, you may fall short of your goals - but if you’re exercising consistently, you should see gradual progress. Making progress will help keep you motivated to keep going!