Why is sticking to an exercise program so difficult?
Typically when individuals start exercising they have a make or break attitude. Many people will start out doing a lot every day for a few days and then stop. After that first time of missing a workout feelings of failure and guilt prevent individuals from continuing to stay active. Also, if someone has been sedentary for a while, starting an exercise program can cause muscle soreness and fatigue. If this is not managed, motivation for continuing to get fit can diminish.
What can I do to help me continue with my exercise program?
- Don’t punish yourself. If you miss a workout or have to slow down or stop, don’t be hard on yourself. Negative self-talk will lower motivation and keep the focus on the one day you didn’t workout rather than the four days that you did.
- Start small. If people decided to start training for a marathon, they don’t typically go out and run thirteen miles the first day. Many exercise programs fail because people start out doing too much too fast.
- Set realistic goals. If your goals are specific and attainable, you are more likely to achieve them and keep coming back.
- Reward yourself. If you are motivated by food, allow yourself a sweet treat only after you’ve completed your exercise goal for the day. Other ideas include saving the money that you would have spent on ice cream or soda and going to a movie or purchasing a new gadget instead.
- Build a support system. Find a friend who has similar fitness goals as you. Even if you can’t run together or lift the same amount of weight, you can still meet up to hold each other accountable as well as share successes and failures of activity adventures.
Source: Meyerott, S. (1982). How to start and maintain an exercise habit. Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books Inc.
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