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How to Start a New Exercise Program and Stick to It

It’s easy to get excited about the idea of working out but soon find yourself feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. Having the right mindset and realistic expectations can help you succeed at a new exercise program.

Why Do You Want to Work out?
The reason why you exercise will determine whether you’ll stick with it. Internal motivation is more likely to lead to long-term success than motivation based on external factors. If you want to get in shape to look good at the beach or at your friend’s wedding, you’ll be less likely to stick to an exercise program over the long term than you would if you wanted to work out to have fun, manage stress and make new friends.

Make Exercising Fun and Routine
Many people enjoy working out with a friend. You can offer each other support and encouragement while exercising, and it can be harder to justify skipping an exercise session if you know your friend is expecting you to be there and will be disappointed if you don’t show up.

Try a variety of activities, and find ones you enjoy. That will help you look forward to working out on days when you’re tired or stressed. Switching things up can allow you to exercise different muscles, avoid overworking one area and prevent boredom.

No matter what type of exercise you choose or when you do it, make it part of your normal routine. Once you’ve exercised consistently for a while, it’ll become a habit that you look forward to each week.

Be Realistic
Don’t overdo it at the beginning. Think about your current fitness level and abilities, and do your best. It’s better to start slow and gradually build up your strength and endurance than to try to do too much too soon and get injured.

It takes time to learn anything new. Don’t get discouraged if you try a new activity and can’t do it right or keep up with others at first. Focus on your form and be proud of yourself for making the effort. You’ll become more proficient with time.

If you can’t find time in your busy schedule for a long workout, break it up. Several short, intense workouts can be just as effective as one longer session.

If you don’t meet your exercise goals or you overindulge in delicious food, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just resolve to get back on track and stick to habits that you know are good for you in the future.

Start on the Path to a Healthier Lifestyle
Beginning a new exercise routine is tough, and sticking to it can be even harder. Find activities you enjoy, be realistic about what you can do and focus on gradually improving. If you experience setbacks, realize that they can happen to anyone and stay focused on your goals.