You know it like you know many of life's truths: the sun will rise tomorrow, one item always remains on a to-do list, you cannot hide things from your mother, and every day, rain or shine, you need to move your body.
But knowing that exercise is essential and actually doing it are two separate concepts. "The beginning of a new routine is usually not a problem," acknowledges Ronda Gates, a lifestyle management counselor in Lake Oswego, Oregon. "It's farther down the road, when the new lifestyle still isn't integrated and the old one is tugging on you to return."
5 Ways to Make Regular Exercise a Reality
1. Develop a plan of accountability.
"For some people it's simply writing information in an exercise journal, and for others it's reporting to a coach or another person," Gates says. Gates offers a simple equation to motivate you: "Commitment plus accountability equals success."
2. Rely on the pleasure principle.
Ask yourself what you enjoy and then incorporate that into your routine. "I hate to exercise but I like to walk," says Naomi, a legal secretary who lives in Brooklyn, New York. "I get off a stop early on the bus or train and I walk home or to work. I also listen to music. Time goes by faster and I get my exercise."
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3. Seek variety.
If you walk outdoors on the same path every day, attempt to notice one thing that's different about your walk — an emerging flower, the number of dogs in the neighborhood this morning — or take a different route each time (even reversing direction counts!).
4. Find a workout partner.
"Exercising with a friend allows you to monitor your intensity while you get caught up on one another's news," says Gates. "If I think my exercise will be boring, meeting and walking with someone is a guaranteed cure."
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5. Keep your eye on the prize.
"I work out three times a week in the morning so I start my day off feeling good," says Karen, a New York-based executive assistant. "I don't enjoy losing an extra hour of sleep, but I enjoy how I feel during and after my workout."