Getting started and continuing an exercise program can be a challenging
yet rewarding undertaking. Fifty percent of those who begin
program will drop out with-in six months. You can implement various
techniques to improve your adherence to these new lifestyle
Determine where you are going to exercise. Some people find it more
convenient to exercise at home. Others may find they have less distractions
at an exercise facility. If you choose to exercise at a gym, pick
one that is nearby since you may be less likely to exercise at a
club that is further away.
You are more likely to stick with your program if it is fun and
convenient. Choose the most convenient time to exercise with the
least distractions. Find activities that you enjoy. Your first few
workouts should be brief and well within your abilities. Gradually
increase the duration and intensity of your exercise. Do not start
out with a program your coach had you perform in high school or
college. Individualize your program and begin back gradually. When
working out with a partner try to choose someone with a similar
fitness level. As a beginner, you may work too hard if you exercise
with an experienced partner. Studies have demonstrated you are less
likely to continue your program if you exercise at higher intensities
too soon. Likewise, long workouts are also associated with higher
drop out rates.
Set realistic goals that contribute to long term lifestyle changes.
Set both behavioural and outcome goals. A behaviour goal could be
exercising on weekdays at 7 P.M. for 30 minutes. Examples of outcome
goals include losing 10 pounds in 2 months or jumping 1 inch higher
by next game season. Understand the objectives behind your outcome
goals so you can set appropriate behavioural goals. Focus on achieving
your behaviour goals since you will have much more control in achieving
this type of goal. Do not get discouraged if your short term outcome
goals are not achieved by your initial deadline. Change your behavioural
goals in accordance to the achievement of your outcome goals. Re-evaluate
your plan if you discover a more effective means to attain your
objectives or are not certain you can consistently achieve your
Commit to your goals. Initially you may be very motivated to stick
to your program. It is not unusual for your motivation to dip occasionally.
To get you through these times, try these techniques:
Establish a routine so physical activity becomes a habit. Plan on
a definite time to exercise. If you feel like not working out, agree
to yourself to have a very short, light workout. Quite often, after
getting ready and warming up, you will find enough motivation to
push through a full workout. If you miss your scheduled workout,
realize not all is lost. Forgive yourself and reevaluate your behavioural
plan. Adjust your strategies to prevent future drop outs and recommit
to your program. Develop a back up plan in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Agree not to use your back up plan unless absolutely necessary.
If you have not successfully stuck to your program in the past,
analyze past obstacles and implement new strategies to overcome
Perform a variety of exercises and activities. Engage in utilitarian
activities such as walking to the store, walking the dog, or catching
up on yard work. Try new activities you think you may enjoy. Perhaps
plan and train for an adventure vacation or sports event. Learn
about these new activities by reading an instructional book, joining
a training group, or hiring a personal trainer. Check to see if
your company offers wellness incentive programs, fitness facilities,
or corporate sports competitions.
Likewise, implement variety in activities you plan on performing
regularly. Change your weight training workouts every month to alleviate
boredom and to restimulate progress. When walking, jogging, or cycling,
vary exercise routes or trails. Use diversions such as listening
to music, watching television, or reading during exercises that
you would otherwise find a bit boring.
Utilise social support. Find an exercise partner, hire a personal
trainer, or exercise in a group setting. A training partner or exercise
instructor can provide feedback, assistance, and motivation. Participate
in physical activities with your spouse, family, or friends. Be
creative. Every week take turns having family members choose their
favorite family activity.
Share your goals with those close to you or others that are likely
to ask you about your progress. Ask them for their support. Having
explained that you have set aside a particular time to exercise
can potentially minimize future conflicts or misunderstandings.
Those close to you will have the opportunity to understand the importance
of your goals and the time you have set aside for them.
Write your goals on paper and post them where they are in view for
you to see every day (e.g. refrigerator, mirror, date book, etc.).
Some people may even find it helpful to sign a personal fitness
contract with their personal trainer or friend.
Monitor your progress. Record your activity and progress in an exercise
diary or log. You can even record your diet in a journal or a food
exchange check list. Consider purchasing an electronic monitoring
gadget like a pedometer, heart rate monitor, or stop watch to track
Find an exercise professional who can monitor your progress. Regular
fitness tests can objectively measure the effectiveness of your
program and can possibly save you months or even years of hard work.
If progress is not significant, immediate changes can be made to
your program. A fitness professional can help you decide the tests
most compatible with your fitness goals and how often you should
Although some individuals may thrive on competition, many beginners
may get discouraged when they compare their fitness levels and abilities
with others. Comparing yourself to others may bring about either
disappointment or conceit. Remember, it is not so important where
you are today as it is where you will be tomorrow.
Start out with the techniques you believe will have the most impact
in your adherence to your program: find activities you find fun
and convenient, set goals, start out gradually, monitor your progress,
perform a variety of exercises and activities, use diversions, and
utilize social support.