If you have ever eagerly started an exercise plan only to quickly give up, you are not alone. A 2018 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that more than 75 percent of Americans do not exercise enough.
Try these seven proven tips for jumpstarting and sticking to your exercise plan.
They are based on the science-based secrets sports psychologists use to help people reach their fitness goals.
Write your plan down
Putting your plan on paper (or computer screen) will help you start exercising and stay on track. Add your long-term goals and make a weekly schedule. Over time, track your progress by writing down what you actually did. Then change your plan to meet your needs. See sample exercise plan templates.
Setting realistic goals makes it more likely you’ll follow through. For example, start by exercising for 10 minutes today. Then, if you feel like exercising longer, go for it! The key is to do something rather than nothing. Then, once you have a new habit, make bigger goals over time.
Choose activities you like
In your exercise plan, write down all the types of exercise you are interested in. Don’t worry if you have never done them before. This is your chance to try them out! Also write down exercises you used to do. Make workouts fun and exciting by doing a range of activities!
Exercise with others
Workout buddies can inspire you to exercise. Family members, friends and co-workers are all potential exercise partners. If you have a dog, going for walks, runs or playing fetch are great ways to get active. There are also many types of group exercise classes, with many online choices.
Change your mind
There are easy mental tricks that can help you stay motivated. For example, say or think “I want to exercise” instead of “I should exercise.” That gives you inner motivation, which is stronger than feeling obligated to do something.
Focus on feeling good
Exercise has both long-term health benefits and immediate positive effects. It releases endorphins in your brain that help reduce pain, increase relaxation and improve mood. Working out can make you feel successful and confident. Plus, you’ll get a better night’s sleep.
Be kind to yourself
Self-compassion has been proven to increase happiness and productivity. Recent research shows that it also helps people stick to their exercise plans. When you run into setbacks, a self-supportive outlook will help you keep going instead of quitting.