Friday, August 31, 2007

Healthy Mind and Body: Fitness and Staying Motivated

Fitness: Staying Motivated

This week's Healthy Mind and Body tip for economic developers is about staying motivated to stick with your fitness program or routine.

Are you having trouble sticking with your fitness program? Have you ever started a fitness program and then quit? If you answer yes, you're not alone. Many people start programs but stop when they get bored or results come too slowly. Stay motivated with these simple tips from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Set goals

Start with simple goals and then progress to longer range goals. Remember to make your goals realistic and achievable. It's easy to get frustrated and give up if your goals are too ambitious.

If you haven't exercised in a while, a short-term goal might be to walk five minutes once or twice a day. An intermediate goal might be to work up to 20 minutes of walking three or four times a week. A long-term goal might be to complete a 10K race.

Consider your personality

If you prefer solitude, walking, biking or in-line skating may be good choices. If group activities are more to your liking, try a class at a local fitness or martial arts center or join a volleyball or softball league. Involve your kids. Walk or bike with a group of friends.

Start slowly

If you push yourself too hard at first, you may be forced to abandon your program because of pain or injury. It's better to start slowly and progress gradually.

Think variety

Vary your activities to keep boredom at bay. Alternate walking or biking with swimming or a low-impact aerobics class. When the weather cooperates, do your flexibility or stretching exercises outside. Play soccer with your kids. Join a health club to broaden your access to different forms of exercise.

Have fun

You're more likely to stick with an exercise program if you're having fun. If you're not enjoying your workouts, try something different. Exercise doesn't have to be drudgery.

Make exercise part of your daily routine

If it's hard to find time for exercise, schedule workouts as you would any other important activity. You can also slip in physical activity throughout the day. Be creative! Take a walk during your child's music lesson. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Pedal a stationary bike while you watch TV at night.

Put it on paper

Are you hoping to lose weight? Boost your energy? Sleep better? Manage a chronic condition? Write it down! Seeing the benefits of regular exercise on paper may help you stay motivated.

Seek support

You're not in this alone. Invite a friend or co-worker to join you when you exercise. Work out with your spouse or your kids. Take a class at a local fitness center.

Track your progress

It may help to keep an exercise diary. Record what you did during each exercise session, how long you exercised and how you felt afterward. Recording your efforts can help you work toward your goals — and remind you that you're making progress.

Reward yourself

After each exercise session, take a few minutes to sit down and relax. Reflect on what you've just accomplished. Savor the good feelings that exercise gives you. This type of internal reward can help you make a long-term commitment to regular exercise.

External rewards can help, too. When you reach a longer range goal, treat yourself to a new pair of walking shoes or new tunes to enjoy while you exercise.

Be flexible

If you're too busy to work out or simply don't feel up to it, take a day or two off. Be gentle with yourself if you need a break. The important thing is to get back on track when you feel better.

Now that you're enthused again, get moving! Set your goals, make it fun and pat yourself on the back from time to time. Review these tips whenever you feel your motivation sliding.

Resources that can help

These three online calculators can help you in setting the right personal fitness goals.

Body Mass Index

Ideal Weight

Calories Burned

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