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  • Writer's pictureJim

Building a Support System

Long distance runners amaze me. Day after day, they get up before dawn, put on their running gear and spends hours in isolation running.  Few people have the motivation and discipline to stick with this regimen over a long period of time without some additional support.

Most people need a system of social support to attain and maintain their exercise program, especially when starting a fitness program. You can increase your chance of becoming a lifelong exerciser, by having a support system in place.

Even if you have the best intentions to maintain an exercise program, life will interfere at some point and throw you off track. You may become ill; have to take care of a sick child or parent. Work commitments, weather, vacations and holidays may throw your workout schedule off. A good support system will help you restart your program after an unexpected layoff or missed workout.

Support comes in different forms. We each need something different to help us maintain our fitness routine.  We may need emotional support, someone to listen to our exercise issues without judgment. We may need someone to praise us for our efforts and when we make progress toward our fitness goals.   At times we might need someone who will challenge us when we lapse and to help us achieve higher levels of fitness.  People who can give us expert advice and act as role models can also serve as support for us.

Look for people who fit your specific support needs when you are setting up your support system. Your support system may include a workout partner, a support person at home, health club staff,  a personal trainer, a life coach, friends or family.

A workout buddy can help you stay accountable to your program. Scheduling your workout with another person can help provide that extra motivation when you are not in the mood to exercise.  We are more likely to show up for an exercise session when someone is depending on us. Exercise is also more enjoyable with a friend. A friend can help you take your mind off exercise. Exercise can be fun, social and productive at the same time.

A support person can remind us to be active, or help us with tasks at home so we can fit exercise into our schedule.  Our support person can share in rewards with us as we achieve our fitness goals.

Here are some other support tips:

• Join organizations or clubs that support the fitness lifestyle

• Join a group fitness class

• Remember to help others in your support group

• Not everyone will support you in your goal to become fit and healthy.  Avoid negativity. You may even have to change some relationships that are not supportive of your goals.

• Schedule fitness into your daily plans.  Set appointments with yourself to exercise.

• Think of ways to add support persons into your physical activity program

• Work together with your partner to achieve your goals faster

Unless you have the motivation and drive to exercise alone like the long distance runner, develop your support system, and increase your chances of achieving a fitness lifestyle.

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