A new year begins and, once again, we renew our vow to get to the gym more often. Will this be a short-lived intention, or will we be able to turn it into a real, long-lasting commitment?
Just as in a love relationship, your relationship with physical activity should be based on patience. According to Colleen Greene, coordinator of the Health Promotion Division at the University of Michigan, for an exercise plan to succeed, we first need to realize that those extra pounds won’t “disappear” after our first weight-lifting session. “Exercise must become part of our daily routine, and not be seen as a short-term solution,” she explained.
Greene also said: “People’s most common New Year's resolution is to lose weight, and it really isn’t so difficult. However, many people wish for this to happen overnight, and they lose their motivation when they realize it doesn’t happen so fast.”
“Since we do not gain weight from one day to the next, we can’t expect the opposite to happen when trying to lose weight,” she emphasized.
Green offers several tips on how to begin, and stick to, your exercise plan, so that the hope you have at the beginning of the year does not disappear with the passing of time. We suggest you post the following tips on your refrigerator door:
- Enroll in a gym that matches your age and lifestyle. “It is very nice to get enrolled at a cutting edge, comfortable gym, but if it is far from your usual route, it might not be such a good choice,” Green states. It is also important to make sure the gym's schedule is compatible with yours, and that the place is staffed by qualified personnel.
- Ask questions. Most gyms have personal instructors and specialists who are willing to help you design the exercise plan that's right for you. In addition, you should consult with your physician and have his/her approval before beginning a new exercise regimen.
- Try things you’ve never done before.“Perhaps you think Pilates is something only dancers do, or that in order to practice yoga you will be forced to stand on your head,” Green mentions. But, go ahead and try it! You’ll find out this isn’t true!
- Think about accomplishing your goals progressively.Greene explained that people’s most common mistake when signing up at a gym is that they want to do everything at once. Try to work out according to your personal goals, and do it progressively. This will help you maintain your exercise routine in the long term.
- Schedule your exercise routine in your agenda.“Often people quit their exercise regimen because of unforeseen events or other responsibilities. However, don’t forget you have a very important responsibility to yourself,” Greene advises. Make your exercise routine part of your daily activities, and don't give up on that commitment easily.
- Build a support network.Find someone you can count on, like an exercise partner, or someone who will take care of your duties at home or at work, so you always have time to be active.
- Make your exercise routine fun!Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Gyms usually have a wide variety of classes and equipment.
Greene concludes that sometimes we also need to challenge the weather—like a cold winter. However, at the end of the road, your desired goal will be waiting, as well as the satisfaction of not giving up on your personal aspirations, despite all adversities.
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