Make 2008 the year that you hold firm to your fitness resolutions! Here are five simple techniques to increase your adherence to a healthier, more fulfilling life through physical activity.
- Avoid becoming overwhelmed, disheartened, or potentially injured by embarking on an over-ambitious workout regimen. Balance is the key; allow your body to gradually adjust to this new way of life so that it becomes habitual and not something that causes stress and/or anxiety (both mental and physical).
- This technique is extremely effective, but sadly, very underused. Set specific, measurable, realistic, and challenging goals; without these, there will be a lack in motivation because one does not have any sense of direction and it is very hard to measure progression.
- Specific: “I will exercise 3 times per week for 6 months” as opposed to “I will do my best to exercise as much as possible.”
- Measurable: Both qualitative (Boost in energy and confidence) and quantitative (Decrease in body fat %).
- Realistic yet challenging: Not too easy where the reward is unsatisfactory, but not too difficult where there is a high chance for failure or disappointment.
- Set both long and short term goals and periodically assess and update these goals.
Plan of Action
- Write down specific strategies to achieve your goals (take the stairs up to my apartment every day, get off the bus two stops early and walk briskly, jog on the treadmill three times per week with my heart rate at 75% of it’s maximum, etc)
- Track progress in a logbook.
- Avoid relapse to previously sedentary lifestyle by planning for inevitable lapses in routine.
- Do not take an all-or-none approach to exercise; all hope is not lost if you lapse. Pick up where you left off and continue towards your goals.
- Identify high-risk thoughts, feelings, and situations that might cause a lapse and be conscious of how they affect you (lack of time, boredom, etc.)
- Avoid these situations and/or develop strategies to handle them as they arise.
- Become accountable to someone else by sharing goals and setting up regular workout dates.
- You will feel more obligated to go to the gym because someone else is depending on you.
- Both partners will benefit from the mutual support and motivation.