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13 Keys to a Successful Exercise Program - Part 1

How many times have you started an exercise program, only to stop at some point? Maybe work interfered, the kids got sick, you twisted an ankle or went on vacation and got out of the habit of exercising. Whatever the reason, you can enjoy success with your exercise program by keeping a few simple tips in mind.

The key to having success with an exercise program is consistency. Missing a workout or two once in a while is normal. In the big scheme, a missed workout or two means little. Think long term. The big picture is how consistent you are over a long period of time, not how many workouts you missed in a week or month.

Now that does not mean that you should skip every other workout and be consistent. On average you will need to exercise at least 3-5 times every week to enhance your health, performance or improve your body composition. Here are some tips that will help you maintain a regular exercise program.

1. Start slowly – Be realistic when you start an exercise program. If you think that you are going to go from being a person who has not exercised since eighth grade gym class to someone who exercises for three hours every day and maintain that schedule, you are probably fooling yourself. You will be better off with a more realistic approach to exercise. Starting out with 15 minutes of exercise three days a week will give you a better chance of success than trying to maintain a schedule of several hours a day every day of your life.

2. Establish the Habit – Exercise is a habit and habits take a long time to form. A good strategy to help you develop the habit of exercise is to plan your exercise into your daily calendar. Treat your workout as another appointment in your schedule just as you would schedule an appointment with your doctor. Plan a time each day when you will exercise. This takes the stress out of trying to fit your workout around your other daily activities. The more fit you become, the better you will feel and the more productive you will be with your family or career. We cannot emphasize enough that regular practice will impact your success more than any specific training program. Consistent practice produces results.

3. Have Fun – Pick an activity that you enjoy when starting an exercise program. Doing something that you enjoy increases the likelihood that you will actually keep to your exercise routine.

4. Rest when tired – The point of an exercise program is not to work until you are exhausted. Despite the message that we see on reality television shows, moderate exercise improves our health and how we look and feel.

5. Set realistic goals – Remember that it took a long time to get out of shape. Years of training to be an inactive couch potato will not be reversed in a few weeks. The promise of six-minute abs ranks right up there with winning the lottery. Fitness is a lifelong pursuit that takes time and energy. Small steps over a long period of time will produce the best results. Take your time and enjoy the process.

6. Build Muscle – Muscle helps us move and burn calories even while we are at rest. Strengthening our muscles, strengthens our bones and improves our balance. Muscles take up less space than fat in the body giving us a toned or fit shape.

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