A chaotic summer schedule can disrupt even the most dedicated exercise program. Barbecues, family vacations and afternoons at the beach often take priority over fitness obligations, especially in parts of the country where summer is short lived. But fall is the perfect time to get back on track. Cooler temperatures make exercising outdoors enjoyable, fall colors are in full bloom, the kids are off to school and holiday planning is still months away. So how do good intentions become real fitness results? These are the five key steps for developing a successful exercise plan.
- Schedule. Get out a fall calendar and look at the obligations that are most likely to pull you away from a fitness routine. Then try to find a regular time slot in which to schedule a workout. If possible, make it during the same general time each day. This will help to make exercise a regular habit. Now, protect the time slot you’ve chosen by including it on your planner along with other appointments and activities.
- Write out the plan. After you’ve decided on a time to exercise, write out your plan and post it in a place that you’ll see it every day. Not only does this written notice act as a reminder, but just the process of writing out your intentions helps to instill a commitment.
- Gather friends. Accountability is a key factor to successful adherence to an exercise program. In short, friends will keep you honest. If exercising together is not a possibility, then plan to connect with friends by phone or email to check up on each other’s commitment to a new exercise plan.
- Get equipped. Starting an exercise program doesn’t have to be expensive, but success is more likely if you have basic equipment to stay comfortable and injury free while working out. Be sure to have supportive shoes and breathable exercise apparel. Basic pieces of equipment can be purchased second hand or for low cost at a sporting goods store. Basic pieces might include a set of free weights, a jump rope, pedometer, or a yoga mat.
- Plan rewards. Make short terms goals and then remember to celebrate small successes along the way. Remember that just honoring the fitness commitment on most days of the week is worthy of celebration even if it feels like more significant goals are still far away. Gather friends and celebrate together with a healthy snack or group walk.
Starting a fitness program or getting back on track after time away can be challenging. But these five steps will help any exerciser reach their fitness goals. If you find yourself looking for healthy activities, check out any of these workouts:
- Fun family workout in just 5 minutes
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- 8 popular activities improve fitness
- Cycling to burn calories
- A stair climbing workout: set goals, improve strength and burn calories
- Become a runner with walk/run intervals
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