Sticking With Exercise

March 17th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

If you have ever battled the motivation gods, emerged victorious, and started following a regular exercise program, you probably know what can happen next.

You stop exercising.

Augh!  That wasn’t supposed to happen!!  You were supposed to start with your New Year’s Resolution and stay with the program!! 

Ah; but we’ve all been there.  Looking through one of my old fitness professional magazines, I came across an article written by Cedric Bryant, Ph. D., the chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, about sticking with exercise programs.

And, as I am wont to do, I thought I’d share his wisdom here.

Dr. Bryant summarizes the four most critical factors for exercise adherence are:

  1. Injuries
  2. Time
  3. Boredom
  4. Results

Each one makes sense!  You don’t want to exercise if you’re hurt (or fear you will get hurt).  You don’t want to exercise if you feel like you barely have time to get dressed in the morning much less spend 30 minutes sweating!  You won’t keep doing something that bores you (unless you are unusual), and you won’t keep doing something if you have to wait 5 years to see any result. 

So how to battle THESE potential roadblocks?  I’ll go through the first two today and the rest tomorrow.

INJURY.  Of course, first plan for injuries when exercising is to avoid them.  But how often does Plan A work?  You need to make sure that you are being smart when you exercise—don’t go so hard too quickly that your body won’t recover.  Exercise really is breaking down your body, resting and rebuilding, and then repeating the process.  Give yourself enough rest and start slowly and safely.  If you do twist your ankle, rest until you are itching to get back… and then wait another 2-5 days to make sure. 

TIME.  I think a lot of people just don’t put a lot of importance on exercise in their lives.  Chances are you have a load of time in your day that you don’t even know about!  If you make exercise a priority, it will happen.  I read something once about a science teacher who gave his class a jar and both large and small stones; the assignment was to put all of the stones in the jar. 

After several tries, the students saw that the stones all fit in the jar only when they placed the big ones in first.  (Turns out the same exact thing happens with dishes in the dish rack; try it!)

Make sure that your exercise is one of the big stones in your life, and the other smaller things will still fit if you need them to.  I promise.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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