A Consistent Exercise Plan

Set the time: Most experts agree that the best time to exercise is the morning before work (or before any other family responsibilities). Morning exercise leaves you feeling energized, already proud of your effort and accomplishment, and ready to take on the day. The second best time is immediately after work (before you get home and have other responsibilities or you sit down to rest). Even if you feel tired, do the exercise. Most of the time you will feel better after exercising because you are breathing better, using oxygen, and often there is an exercise “high” that can carry you onward.

Set the places and vary them. If you have a gym between your home and work, stop in; or, the most modest exercise equipment for the home can still give you a good workout. Many exercise professionals agree that giving yourself a variety of exercise plans works for variables in the weather and guards against boredom. Look into an alternating plan that includes weight-lifting, walking, running, tennis, bicycling, aerobics, equipment use, dance classes, Pilates, yoga, swimming, gardening, etc. And housework does count too!

You can maintain good eating habits even during the holidays, or when on vacation. If you know you are going to have an extra cocktail or two, or a rich dessert, be sure to increase your intake of fruits and greens. Even when vacationing in a land of culinary pleasures, you can always ask for salads instead of potatoes or pasta, and fresh fish instead of meat — and you might be surprised at how wonderfully such things are prepared in different places.

Give yourself motivation if you need it. Some people find great success with making games with their exercise programs. Simple ones are keeping track of distance, times, weight, etc. But there are other games. Some runners figure out how many miles it is to a certain destination, then figure out how far they run in a week and set a target date for reaching their destination. Using a pedometer can work. Pick a number of steps to go — maybe 10,000. Then set your goals to walk so many hundred extra steps a day or week.

Pace Yourself

You don't have to go a long distance all at once, and nobody says exercise has to be ½ hour or an hour at a time. In fact, the more you push yourself over your limit, the more you will be inclined to quit. You can't turn yourself into a marathon-running superstar overnight, but you can certainly build up to it. If you exercise for just ten minutes three times a day, that gives you ½ hour a day. Fitness gurus recommend adding ten-minute bursts of activity during the day, and it all adds up.

Take great note of all your progress and reward yourself for that. Look for things like having better energy, getting better sleep, thinking more clearly, noticing your muscles working easily without pain, and getting a good report from a health professional. Nobody is ever too old to love a reward for putting in effort and work, so decide on what you want — and you'll get it.

The buddy system works for many a thing — and a little socializing while exercising can be both rewarding and motivating. If you have a gym friend or a walking buddy, you're less likely to quit, because you motivate each other to keep going! Besides, who doesn't love a good chat when burning calories?

Remember that exercise helps in these ways:

  • Your body gets better at taking in and using oxygen, which helps your cells burn fat better.

  • It helps circulation, fueling muscles and the body, and providing better energy.

  • It helps weight management by burning calories, keeping your metabolism going strong.

  • It improves your physique. Weightlifting can reduce loss of muscle tissue during weight loss, as well as toning and defining.

  • Aerobic exercise or cardiovascular keeps your heart rate healthier.

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