We’re all familiar with it. The new year brings high hopes that “This will be the year! This is the year I will stick with exercise and lose weight, look my best, improve my health, (fill in the blank).” Yet we are also familiar with the dreary statistic that most people fail at this—around 80% of us, to be exact.
So if high motivation is not the key to achieving our exercise goals, what is?
Well, it just so happens that researchers have asked the same question and have spent a great deal of study trying to answer this question. They’ve found a number of methods that help—having workout buddies, exercising in the morning, making exercise convenient, and having a plan B, just to name a few. But there is one thing that may stand out above the rest.
The single most important strategy for sticking with exercise is… Enjoy what you’re doing.
It sounds simple enough, but let’s elaborate a bit, especially for those who say they hate exercise. Most of us know that exercise has a huge number of benefits. In fact, exercise is often called “the best medicine,” or the closest thing we know to being a “magic pill” or “fountain of youth.” But knowing all of those things doesn’t necessarily make it work for us. So let’s focus on experiencing how exercise makes you feel.
When someone consistently does exercise they enjoy at the appropriate intensity, they usually find that they experience the following benefits very quickly:
- Better sleep
- More energy
- Better stress relief
- Better moods
Who doesn’t want those benefits, right? So once you’ve had clearance from your physician to get moving, how do you exercise the right way to make this work?
1—Find the reason that YOU want to exercise, and link that reason to how it will make you feel better. For example: I want to lose weight because I will feel more energy, feel better about myself, (fill in the blank). For detailed help in finding your reasons for exercise, see our other blog posts.
2—Write down your goal AND your plan for how to accomplish that goal. Use a calendar, sticky notes on the fridge, whatever will help remind yourself DAILY what you want to do and how you will get there. Example: I will put a daily reminder in my calendar to walk or wheel 10 minutes each day so that I will feel better and lose weight. Be as specific as possible—time of day, where you will walk or wheel, who you will walk or wheel with, what you’ll do if Plan A doesn’t work, etc.
Note that 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise is recommended for all adults. If you can do that amount, do it! But if you can’t do that much, 10 minutes a day has shown to be a beneficial starting point. The important thing is to start doing something now.
3—Do it! Work your plan and revise it as needed. You may not have ALL of the answers now but when you focus on the goal of moving every day you will find solutions along the way. There are a multitude of helpful resources—websites like Scale Back Alabama, friends who’ve succeeded at exercising consistently, and fitness professionals, to name a few. And when “life happens” and it knocks you out of your exercise routine, start back the next day if possible. Remember that people who succeed at being consistent exercisers experience setbacks too; the difference is they just continue moving forward one step at a time.
Since you are reading this article you ARE one of those who are moving forward. You are spending time learning how to be successful with exercise. Why not take the next step forward and use the process above to put your plan into action now!
See for yourself if doing exercise you enjoy while following a daily plan will be the key to help you stick with exercise this year. I’d love to hear your feedback and follow your progress on social media!