It is estimated that almost half of individuals who start supervised exercise programs will drop out within 6-12 months. This is true regardless of the type of exercise program recommended, be it of community/worksite/home regimens and gym membership, in-patient rehabilitation and outpatient illness treatment for heart attacks, strokes, diabetes or depression.
Let this not happen to you lest you miss out on the benefits of exercise on the mind and body. Here are effective tips to stay motivated and keep exercising.
1. Lower expectations. The human body takes time to adjust to the new workload imposed upon it, which will vary from one individual to the next. Just because the desired results – bulging biceps, longer second wind, shapely figure – do not materialize according to schedule is not sufficient reason to stop exercising. Instead, just keep at it but be realistic.
This also pertains to being a flexible exerciser. Nobody said that you have to keep to the exercise routines seven days a week, down to the last lunge stretch and abdominal breath. You can take a break from your regimen to give your body time to recover but don’t put off exercising altogether. And don’t feel guilty either because it happens to the best of exercisers, too.
2. Add spice and variety to the current exercise routines. You might just be experiencing an exercise plateau, which can be resolved by increasing or decreasing the frequency, intensity and time devoted to the workout sessions and engaging in cross training.
3. Find an exercise partner, if you don’t have one. You will find that staying motivated is easier when one has somebody to share the aches and accomplishments with. Of course, it also helps to stave off the boredom of working with inanimate objects.
4. Make a diary or journal devoted to your exercise regimen. This will help in keeping track of your plans versus your accomplishments, which is a great motivator and planning tool. Looking at achievements on paper helps in validating them and thereby provides more motivation to just keep exercising. Also, this will help in planning changes to the exercise routines to prevent fitness plateaus.
Furthermore, the exercise diary will help you look back to the past. This ought to motivate you to do better because you don’t want your love handles back but you want your breath back. In essence, the diary will help you look back to the present, appreciate the present and anticipate the future.
5. The most important of all, reward yourself for the accomplishments you have gained, no matter how small. You can buy new workout gear, treat yourself to a sumptuous dinner that is a little off the calorie chart, even a weekend vacation from your exercise regimen. The important thing is that you are rewarding yourself for your accomplishments and it makes you happy.
In all these tips to stay motivated and just keep exercising and following your fitness regimen, the value of self-discipline, self-confidence and self-respect are always present. Keep in mind that the benefits of exercise will benefit not your family, not your friends, not your partner, not your doctor but the person who matters the most in the world to you – YOU.