Starting an exercise program is simple. All that’s needed is the desire to get started, along with a pair of sneakers. The fitness journey can be started any time, any place. This is the easy part. Sticking with it is the challenge. These are my tips on how to stick to a workout program.
According to statistics, the majority of people who start an exercise program quit within a few short months. New Year’s Resolutions are an excellent example. Losing weight and eating healthier are popular resolutions, but more than half of those who start resolutions quit within six months.
There are many reasons why a person would give up on reaching their fitness goals. Here are the top reasons people quit and the best ways to overcome them:
Problem: Lack of results
Many become discouraged when they don’t see the results as quickly as anticipated. No matter how hard they try, the weight doesn’t seem to come off. After days and weeks of trying, they become discouraged and give up, saying “I just can’t do it. Working out isn’t for me.”
Solution: Have realistic expectations
We currently live in a “microwave society.” We are accustomed to receiving the things we want quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, fitness takes time. In spite of the claims by many weight loss products, the average person loses 1-2 pounds per week. By accepting this important fact, you won’t become discouraged if you don’t see results as quickly as you’d originally hoped.
Bonus tip: Make it a lifestyle
Instead of focusing on the end result, find other aspects of exercise to enjoy, such as using it to relieve stress or socialize with friends.
Problem: Workouts are too strenuous/difficult
This can be a problem for those not in the best physical condition. If workouts are deemed too tough, a person may start to dread their workouts or worse, increase their risk of injury. This is counterproductive and will sabotage any fitness program.
Solution: Take the “work” out of working out
There are many forms of exercise to choose from. Some can be strenuous (like an intense round of CrossFit), or relaxing like walking with the kids. In both cases, the body is still getting the much-needed movement it needs to be healthy. Other popular calorie burners that are often considered “fun” include the following:
- Tai Chi
- Rock climbing
- Punching bags
Problem: Lack of time to exercise
Between sixty-hour work weeks, going to school full time or taking kids to football practice, many people find it extremely difficult to squeeze in an hour of exercise per day. In addition, many claim to be too tired to work out.
Solution: Try “burst training”
Burst training (or high intensity exercise) is when you do really high intensity exercise for 30-60 seconds, followed by 30-60 seconds of rest. Aim for 90-100% of your maximum heart rate during the high intensity exercise (i.e. the exercise should be HARD).
One study looked at high intensity VS steady state exercise. Results found that both groups had a significant improvement in cardiovascular fitness. But only the high intensity group had a significant reduction in body fat.
Popular burst training exercises include the following:
- Jumping jacks
- Mountain climbers
- Skipping rope
- Wind sprints
Bonus tip: become creative with your time
Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away in parking lots, and walk on breaks at work. While waiting on the kids at soccer practice, jog around the track or go for a brisk walk. These are all great ways to burn a few extra calories, without any significant effort or deviation from daily routines.
Problem: Loss of motivation
Many people begin their workout journey with great excitement, only to have those feelings wane after a few weeks. As the enthusiasm decreases, so does the desire to continue their fitness program.
Solution: Find ways to stay motivated
One of the best ways to remain motivated is to remind yourself why you began working out in the first place:
- Doctor’s orders?
- Lose weight for high school reunion or wedding?
- Improve quality of life?
- Weight loss challenge?
- Complete a 5k or triathlon?
Whatever the reason, channeling those original feelings can help you regain their motivation and desire to continue.
Bonus tip. Share your journey
An excellent way to stay motivated is by making the fitness ambitions public: share goals on social media, post before and after pics, or join groups of like-minded individuals who are supportive and are on the same fitness mission.
Maintaining an exercise program may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. I hope these tips have given you a good idea on how to stick to a workout program. By applying these tips as needed, you’ll be much closer to reaching your fitness goals.