Personal Trainers

Ten Sure Steps to Exercise Success

Pick up virtually any fitness magazine or book, and you'll probably find some words of wisdom or warning about why exercise programs fail. It usually goes something like this: lack of time, enjoyment, motivation, realistic goals, regularity, variety, support, proper instruction, good eating habits, rewards, etc. Although all those lack-ofs certainly can and often do derail an exercise program, I've found it is much more encouraging, empowering, and effective to focus on why exercise programs succeed.

People who get beneficial and lasting results from exercise tend to:

1. Make the commitment.

Identifying why you want to exercise will help you to commit your time and effort toward reaching your personal fitness objective.

2. Set realistic and specific goals.

Knowing your current level of fitness (weight, strength, stamina, health issues, etc.) and the level of fitness you wish to achieve and sustain are the first two steps toward figuring out how and how quickly to move safely and steadily toward your goals.

3. Keep an exercise log.

Recording your daily exercise activities and tracking the results not only enables you to monitor your progress and identify necessary changes, it is also a great motivator. Seeing that you're taking more steps and with greater ease even when you aren't seeing a significant change in weight, size, or cholesterol levels will encourage you to at least stick with it, if not add more exercise and/or decrease calories.

4. Start small and build slowly.

Fitting your exercise routine to your current level of fitness and then gradually increasing the amount and difficulty of exercise as your body strengthens ensures against discomfort, frustration, and injury and, ultimately, keeps you moving. So, if you lean toward all-or-nothing exercise thinking or quick-fix fitness strategies, ditch them now; they never work.

5. Do a variety of activities you enjoy.

Engaging in physical activities you genuinely enjoy and adding interesting new activities or doing a favourite activity a new way now and then will prevent boredom and keep you motivated and moving.

6. Have good information and instruction.

When you know better, you do better. Knowing how to exercise properly and knowing the beneficial effects of proper exercise as well as the ill effects of inadequate and improper exercise go a long way toward getting and keeping you on the right fitness track for you.

7. Allow and plan for "off days".

Stuff happens. You get sick; you get distracted; you get injured; you get busy; you get tired; you get bored; you travel; you get the blues. Other things take priority: children, holidays, family, work, friendships. And sometimes you just can't fit in exercise or just don't feel like it. Acknowledging and preparing for those inevitable slips and slides with contingency and get-back-in-the-saddle plans will help prevent major set-backs and withdrawals.

8. Get sufficient hydration and proper nutrition.

Eating the right foods in the right amounts and drinking enough water not only gives your body the energy it needs to operate efficiently, helping both to improve health and manage weight, it also gives you the energy you need to exercise, helping to ensure against overexertion and dehydration.

9. Get sufficient rest and relaxation.

Getting enough down time increases both the effectiveness of and your enjoyment of exercise while decreasing the risk of injury and of you quitting because you're feeling overloaded or overtired.

10. Reward progress.

Giving yourself a tangible reward when you reach each goal along the way provides an added incentive for moving forward. Rewards are especially effective when you reach a plateau and the good results going on inside might not be immediately obvious on the outside. For most people, it is best to stick with rewards other than food°™for example, a facial, or a new outfit, or a night on the town, or for those big milestones, a vacation (preferably a walking tour).


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