A Lifestyle Choice: Getting Fit

Finding the right activity is the first step towards sticking with an exercise routine.
Here's a sad fact: About half of those who start a new exercise program abandon it within three to six months. The reason is no mystery—people are lazy. It's not our fault. Evolution has instilled in each of us a strong instinct to avoid unnecessary exertion. So if you want to build a lasting exercise habit, you need to overcome this instinct.

The good news is that in recent years, the busy field of exercise psychology has come up with a number of effective tricks to help us in this process. Here are six of them.

More: 9 Tips to Help You Get Fit

Find the Right Fit

Many beginning exercisers make the mistake of letting a personal trainer, fitness facility or some other influence choose their primary form of exercise for them. Most often, the result is a poor fit. Studies have shown that people are more likely to stick with exercise when they choose an activity they like.

There are literally dozens of effective forms of exercise (weightlifting, walking, running, tennis, yoga, swimming, basketball, bicycling—the list goes on). The best one for you is whichever one you'll enjoy enough to stick with.

More: 20 Ways to Stick to Your Workout

Deflate the No-time Excuse

Another important adherence trick is scheduling. Lack of time is the number-one cited reason for failure. "However," says James Annesi, Ph.D., author of Enhancing Exercise Motivation, "according to two recent studies, those who successfully adhere to an exercise program don't have any more leisure time available on a daily basis than dropouts."

Instead of beginning each day with a general intention to exercise, plan a specific activity for a specific time and place 24 hours in advance. These tips can help you fit a workout into even the busiest schedule:

  • Reduce the amount of time you spend watching TV.
  • Find other ways of reducing "waste" from your schedule. Consider even moving closer to your workplace to reduce commute time.
  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier and exercise first thing in the morning.
  • Choose an activity that you can do anytime, anywhere—such as jogging.
  • Purchase a piece of home exercise equipment, such as an elliptical trainer.
  • Find a way to work out during your lunch break.
  • Combine your workouts with another daily necessity, for example by running errands on foot instead of in the car.

More: 7 Strength Training Excuse Busters

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