How to Start Exercising and Stay Motivated

Many people wake up refreshed and ready to move, motivated to exercise for the sheer pleasure it brings them. Working out is a mood booster that leaves them feeling energized, and without it, they feel restless and uncomfortable. For these people, exercise is an innate pleasure, important to their sense of well-being.

Approximately 10 percent of people have an "adverse response" to exercise so they find it difficult to stay motivated. If you are in that 10 percent, engaging in behavior-changing strategies can be an effective way to reach your fitness goals.

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The Facts Fall Flat

"The common approach is to try and change people's attitudes or beliefs about exercise and why it's important, but that information isn't motivating," says Vicki Conn, Associate Dean of Research at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. "We can't 'think' ourselves into being more active."

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Monitor Your Progress

A review article in the Journal of Obesity says that the greater the use of self-monitoring, the greater the amount of weight loss. Besides logging calories burned and calories consumed, individuals may also benefit from recording moods and thoughts associated with exercising. This information may help identify obstacles to physical activity.

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Stimulate Action

The act of laying out exercise clothes before going to bed prepares your mind for a morning workout and makes it easier to get dressed in the morning. Bringing workout clothes to the office increases chances of fitting a workout into your daily routine. Setting small, weekly goals and rewarding yourself when you reach them builds on success.

Social Support

Work out with a buddy. Social support is a key ingredient for behavioral change, and is an important aid for weight maintenance. It keeps you motivated and holds you accountable. Participating in-group classes fosters strong friendships that can keep you on track.

If starting your day with a workout isn't natural for you, try monitoring your progress and exercising with a friend. Track your success because it feels good and builds momentum. Celebrate milestones with a companion who will offer encouragement when you need it.

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About the Author

Judi Sheppard Missett

Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. Today the program boasts more than 7,800 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly in all 50 states and 32 countries. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people. Benefits include increased cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility, as well as an overall "feel good" factor.  For more information go to or call (800) FIT-IS-IT.

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