January is a month of good intentions. We often feel motivated to eat healthier and start getting more regular exercise when the calendar flips over to a brand new year. But sometimes it can be hard to turn those good intentions into action. We know what’s good for us, but old habits die hard, and often the couch ends up being way more attractive than a brisk walk around the block.
What can you do to motivate yourself to get started on an exercise routine? According to the Diabetes Dialogue magazine there are five ways to leap over the psychological hurdles that might be keeping your get-up-and-go from getting up off the couch.
- Be sneaky. If you’re intimidated by the idea of joining a gym and starting a structured program, just make a point of increasing your activity whenever you have the chance—and make note of the things you do so you can really see that you are making small but important changes in your activity level. Park farther away than you really have to, take the stairs whenever possible, walk or bike to the coffee shop or store instead of driving, offer to walk your neighbor’s dog, get up and march in place during commercials, take a ballroom dance class at a local community center. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is all you ever have to do, but every little bit of additional exercise definitely helps!
- Join forces. If you’re not enjoying an exercise routine, you’re probably less apt to stick to it. Convince a friend or family member to join you and turn your daily walk, jog or gym visit into a social outing that ends up benefitting both body and soul!
- Stay positive. Fear of failure often keeps people from trying. Track your progress so you can see that you are improving, even if it’s gradual. Do things like wear a step-counting pedometer so you can make a point of increasing the number of steps you take each week, or time your walks so you can watch your progress and know when it’s time to lengthen your route. Seeing how much you’re improving is a great motivator.
- Work out at home. If you’re self-conscious about exercising for whatever reason, there are many at-home options. Do a little online research for exercise videos for people in your age range.
- Get expert advice. Perhaps you’re not sure where to begin, given your age, medical conditions or current fitness level. Maybe you’re even a little afraid. Talk to your doctor for advice and reassurance before you get started. Chances are you’ll be praised for wanting to take a step towards better health, and you’ll get sound advice from someone who knows exactly what you’re capable of handling. You could also consider hiring a personal trainer who can give you one-on-one attention and customized exercises that perfectly suit your needs and abilities.
For more advice on how to get started on a fitness program, visit the MayoClinic.com.
Remember, always consult with your family physician before starting any exercise program, particularly if you do not exercise regularly.
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