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Health

Stay motivated to exercise

May 6, 1999
Web posted at: 11:15 a.m. EDT (1515 GMT)


In this story:

Set realistic goals

Chart your progress

Check in with a fitness professional every six to eight weeks

Work out with a friend

Build in rewards

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



By Liz Humphreys webmd


(WebMD) -- We've all heard that exercise is good for us, with the benefits including decreased risk of heart disease, increased muscle and a greater sense of well-being. However, exercise experts agree that one of the biggest obstacles to getting fit comes from lack of motivation. Excuses from having too much work to feeling unwell to simply being lazy can sabotage an exercise schedule.

The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) recommends aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes at least three times a week and resistance training at least two times weekly. The aerobic activity can include anything that consistently raises your heart rate, ideally to a range within your Target Heart Rate zone.

 CALCULATING YOUR TARGET HEART RATE (THR):
  • Subtract your age from 220
  • Multiply the result by 0.6 and 0.8 to find the lower and upper ranges of your THR
  • Try to keep your heart rate within this range to burn optimal energy levels
  • Kathy Stevens, an AFAA-certified trainer and creator of the "Baby and You: Exercises for Two" video series, offers these tips for keeping your workouts consistent:

    Set realistic goals

    You can't expect to have washboard abs after a week of doing curl-ups. Making progress -- whether it's building up your biceps or fitting into your old jeans -- takes time. Keep in mind that you can't spot tone -- if you want smaller thighs, you'll need to lose overall body weight. Where that weight comes off depends on many factors, including genetics. Be aware of your body type and be realistic about the results you'll attain from exercise.

    Chart your progress

    Record your workout schedule on a calendar so you'll be reminded of when you've scheduled workouts. Schedule times for exercise as you would any other appointment -- block out time that works for you and stick with it. After you exercise, jot down how long you worked out, what machines you used and how many repetitions of weights you did. You'll be surprised how motivating it can be to watch yourself progress from being winded after running for 15 minutes to feeling fine after running for a half hour. Since there are no competitors when you exercise, it's all about you and doing the best you can.

    Check in with a fitness professional every six to eight weeks

    If you exercise at a gym, you can probably sign up for a session with a personal trainer. Though these sessions can be rather pricey, they may be worth the money if you're looking for ways to rev up your routine. Trainers can make sure you're exercising correctly - particularly with weights - and can suggest new exercises, depending upon your goals. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests looking for a personal trainer who is certified by a nationally recognized organization, such as ACE or AFAA.

    Work out with a friend

    You'll be more likely to exercise regularly if someone else keeps you moving even when you'd rather take a nap or watch TV. The most effective workout buddy is one who participates with you, whether you take walks together or meet at the gym after work. Even if you don't feel like exercising, having the other around will increase your motivation -- and make the time fly faster when you're sharing stories while climbing the Stairmaster.

    Build in rewards

    As you set your fitness goals, also set incentives to keep you on track. Treat yourself to a massage after you exercise consistently for two weeks, or a weekend trip after you increase your workouts to five times a week. Being fit shouldn't be seen as a chore, but as an essential -- and fun -- part of your lifestyle.

    Copyright 1999 by WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.



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    RELATED SITES:
    American Fitness and Aerobics Association
    American College of Exercise
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