To Your Health
April, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 04)
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Rather than beating yourself up if you miss a workout or overindulge in your favorite food, quickly get back into your routine. You're only human, after all.

When setting exercise goals, start with baby steps. Engage in some type of physical activity two to three times a week for at least 30 minutes at a time, and increase the intensity as you get stronger. When you establish a routine, choose exercises and a workout schedule you can stick with. If you are busy with work or kids in the evening, exercise in the morning. If you despise the gym, jog outside or join a sports team. You can stay motivated by writing down your plan and creating a list of rewards you'll earn when you achieve your goals - a new outfit, a trip to Bermuda; whatever drives you. When your hard work pays off, take pride in your achievements, however small, whether it's increasing the weight you can lift, to building up your speed on the treadmill, or actually making it to the gym three days a week. You also may find it helpful to identify a healthy role model - a friend, family member or co-worker - who can provide a model diet and exercise regimen with proven results.

Most importantly, your overarching goal in developing a fitness routine should be to improve your health and live a longer, happier life. If your goal is simply to look good, fit into your favorite pair of pants or impress your friends, you'll likely get sidetracked by minor challenges and lose your motivation. Although the first few weeks of any new routine will be a challenge, you'll eventually stop questioning whether exercise is worth your time and energy; it simply becomes part of your day, like waking up in the morning, going to work or falling asleep at night.

A daily calendar, a tape measure and an apple. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Make It Fun

Fun is a key ingredient to a successful long-term fitness plan. You are far more likely to make exercise a regular part of your life if you actually look forward to it. Find activities you enjoy and exercises that make you feel good, and incorporate them into every workout. If you recruit a gym buddy and commit to meeting them regularly, you are less likely to skip out on exercise. Similarly, your favorite music CD or television show can make your time on the treadmill fly by.

If the gym isn't appealing, there are dozens of activities you can do at home, such as gardening, household chores like mopping or vacuuming, jogging around the neighborhood, dancing, and so forth. On a beautiful day, use exercise as an excuse to explore new places, parks or historic spots, or play volleyball or tennis outside. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic suggest that the calories people burn doing everyday activities are often as important as focused exercise. For example, an obese person sits 150 minutes more each day than a thin person. By working physical activity into mundane daily activities, like taking five-minute breaks to walk around, pacing while on the phone, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, you can burn off excess weight without even stepping into a gym!