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Exercise: 7 Tips for Fitness Success

Tod Syversen asked:

Today, in honor of lists (who doesn’t love lists?) here are seven tips to help make starting a new exercise routine easier.

1. The obligatory “consult your doctor first.” This one is particularly for if you’re not normally physically active. Before you begin a new exercise program it is really important to make sure you’re physically up for it. Make sure you don’t have anything serious that needs to be addressed.

Find a doctor that is familiar with exercise and physical fitness. This is important because one doctor told me that women should never lift weights, they should stick to aerobics. Most doctors do not get a lot of training in exercise and nutrition, find one who did and you are golden. Take home lesson: don’t be afraid to question your doctor about exercise. Lecture over, let’s get to the fun stuff.

2. Set small goals. While it may be really exciting to set a large goal like running a marathon or going to the gym every day, the motivation fades fast if you don’t have smaller goals for positive feedback. Without the feedback of accomplishing smaller victories it gets difficult to motivate yourself to achieve the grander goal. Then you risk a blind-date with feeling overwhelmed.

Think in terms of breaking the larger goal into smaller chunks like running 1 mile a day for the first week, then 2 miles a day for the next, then 3 miles and so on. You will find yourself going from the couch to the Boston Marathon sooner than you think.

3. Reward yourself. Achieving your goals is supposed to be fun. When you reach a goal, whether it is a little one or a big one, reward yourself. This is key to keep you moving forward. Pick a reward and don’t give up until you’ve earned it. The reward will be a lot more satisfying and keep you motivated for the next goal.

4. Do something fun. Exercising doesn’t have to be running around a track until you can’t breathe anymore. Take up a sport you enjoy and your goals become part of the fun. Keeping things fun will avoid a blind-date with overwhelmed’s ugly cousin: burnout. If you think that sitting on an Abdominizer for hours on end in front of your television is fun you don’t need tips, you need an intervention.

5. Mix it up. It’s easy to get into a rut when you’re beginning a new workout routine. In order to keep things interesting and maintain your motivation, change up the exercises or sports you do. This is to make things easier on the body as well the mind. For example, if you’re running two or three times a week, consider riding your bike on the other days. Weight lifting? Add mobility drills to keep your muscles strong and flexible.

6. Exercise with friends. Friends motivate you to get to the gym, friends make it fun, and friends can challenge you to push yourself just a little bit farther than you might if you were working out alone. Nothing is more powerful than a friendly “she is NOT going to do more push ups than me!” Just remember that this is not social time and if you can easily talk while you exercise you aren’t working hard enough to get fit.

7. Exercise during your best time of day. Are you a morning person? I’d wager that the morning is when you will get your best workouts. If you’re a night person, then try working out in the evening. You will need to experiment with this until you find your sweet spot.

Like any good list you have to draw the line somewhere and end it. OK, many more tips could have made this list but information overload won’t help you succeed. Start with these tips and once you make them part of your regular routine you can worrying about finer details.

Congratulations on your decision to get into shape. Your body is designed for movement and exercise is vital to your health. Now go get moving!

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