How to Start an Exercise Programme

You already know that you should exercise, but how do you do it?
You’d like to be healthy, but you aren’t sure you have the time to fit exercise into your day. Realise that any new habit is difficult to establish at first, but it can be done. Follow These steps and you’ll be on your way down the exercise path in no time! Enjoy your exercise journey!

1. Plan Exercise Into Your Day
What if you don’t have time to exercise? This is the most common reason people give for not exercising. Before we go on stop and think a moment. You can make time for anything you are committed to doing. Before people have children, they are terrified they won’t have time be able to fit them into their schedule. Not surprisingly, they make time. Why? Because they are committed to having children in their life. Similarly, you can become committed to exercise. Relax, it can be done!

2. Look at Your Schedule
Take a calendar or day planner that lists the hours of every day of the week. Then fill in what activities you have to do in every hour. (If you can’t do this from memory, try making a time log for one week.) Notice when you have blank spots – even if they are just for half an hour. Could you fit a short five to ten minute walk in that slot?

3. Make an Appointment to Exercise
Identify various times you have available and make appointments with yourself to exercise at those times. Actually write the appointments into your diary.

4. Set up a Support Network
Develop a support network consisting of two sets of people. In the first set, include people who will exercise with you. Can you enlist the aid of neighbours, family members or friends at work? Let your enthusiasm motivate these people. Position exercise as a great adventure your are embarking on. In the second set include people who will support you in your efforts. They might not exercise with you, but they will encourage you through the pitfalls. Do you know any people who are already consistent exercisers? Enlist their aid. They will usually be happy to encourage you to exercise because they are already sold on its benefits.

What about the people who will try to sabotage you? Explain to them that you are trying to develop healthy habits and exercise is important to you. Ask them to join you and tell them that you’d appreciate their support. Even if they won’t support you, they’ll be more aware of your needs and hopefully not sabotage you to such a great extent.

5. Set Goals
Why do you want to exercise? To lose weight, build muscle or improve your health? If you write down specific goals, you’ll know what direction to go in. Make goals that you can chart, because then you can see progress towards them. Create a short-term plan for next month and then one for a longer period of time, say four or six months. Set realistic goals, for example, walking five or more minutes every week, or losing 1/2 a kg of fat a month. Don’t expect to lose 10 kg in two weeks. As motivation, set a target date for accomplishing your goals. For optimal physical fitness, you’ll want to work up to performing cardiovascular exercise like rowing or cycling three to five times per week for 20 to 60 minutes. Of course, whatever exercise you will do will provide health gains, so don’t worry if you can’t reach this frequency at first. If setting goals sounds challenging, don’t despair! Enlist the aid of an experienced exerciser, personal trainer or fitness instructor to help you.

6. How to Stick With Exercise
Identify potential reasons why you would skip exercise. Write these excuses down. Brainstorm ways you can work around obstacles. For example, how do you fit exercise into the lunch hour? If you could bring lunch from home, go for a workout then eat at your desk; or you could go for a walk and buy lunch on your way back. Don’t let feeble excuses like rain, personalities, too busy etc to stop you.

7. Find a Role Model
Identify a consistent exerciser to whom you can relate. Find out what he or she has done to succeed in an exercise program. Wear a portable stereo if you work out alone. You’ll find that your favorite music or a novel on tape will help you keep your interest and motivate you to keep going.

8. Put Your Exercise Bag by the Front Door
The Night Before You Want to exercise. This way your won’t forget to bring it to work. Going directly from work to exercise is one way of making sure you get there.

9. Make Appointments to Exercise With a Friend
This will motivate you to exercise, because you will want to see your friend. Also you will be less likely to cancel, because you won’t want to let your friend down.

10. Try a Variety of Programs to Avoid Boredom
Cross training is the name of the game. Potential activities include walking, running, swimming, working out on cardiovascular equipment, variety in strength training, tennis, boxing, power walking, aerobics etc.

11. Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard When You Exercise
You will receive little additional benefit from exercising out of your comfort zone. Exercise should be a little bit of a challenge, but if is too difficult, you won’t want to continue.

12. Set up a Reward System for Yourself
Promise Yourself that if you exercise for a given number of days, you will give yourself something that you want. This may be time for yourself, a weekend trip, a new CD or something else that you’d like.

13. Keep a Log of the Times You’ve Exercised
This visual reminder of your accomplishments will make you feel good . It will help motivateyou to continue.

14. Seek Out Information on Health and Fitness
The more knowledgeable you become, the better able you’ll be to guide your program. Try reading books and magazines or talking to fitness instructors or personal trainers.

15. Use Affirmations to establish new habits
Affirmations help program your subconscious to accept new beliefs. They should be positive statements and start with things like “I am” or “I have”. For example one might be “I am living a healthy lifestyle by walking twice a week at lunch”. Repeat affirmations several times a week. You might feel that saying affirmations is lying to yourself if you haven’t already achieved the goal, but that’s okay! As long as the statement is a believable and achievable goal, this is fine.

16. What to Eexpect When You Start a Programme
Exercise should not be dangerous if you start out gradually and build up to more strenuous activities. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. This is true especially if you have a prior history of injuries or medical conditions (including high blood pressure or high cholesterol), are pregnant, smoke cigarettes, have a family history of heart disease or are a over 40.

You might feel stiff or sore when starting a program, but you should NEVER feel pain. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. You also shouldn’t feel exhausted at the end of a workout. If you feel pain or yourself getting overtired or out of breath, you should check with your doctor. Muscle soreness tells you that exercise is affecting your body, so it’s actually a good sign. The soreness will only last a few days.

PLANNING WORKSHEET
Times of the day I’ve identified when I can exercise:

Time # 1 ________________________________
Time # 2 ________________________________
Time # 3 ________________________________

Days that are good for me to work out:
Day # 1 ______________________________________
Day # 2 ______________________________________
Day # 3 ______________________________________

People I’d like to work out with:
Person # 1 ___________________________________
Person # 2 ___________________________________
Person # 3 ___________________________________

Activities I’d like to try:
Activity # 1____________________________________
Activity # 2 ___________________________________
Activity # 3 ___________________________________

Exercise Goals I have:
Goal # 1 __________________________________________
Goal # 2 __________________________________________
Goal # 3 __________________________________________

People who will support me in exercise:
Support person # 1 __________________________________
Support person # 2 __________________________________
Support person # 3 __________________________________

MYTH BUSTERS
Myth # 1: No pain, no gain. Wrong! Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is the matter. If you feel Pain, you should stop. You can derive a great many benefits from exercising at a moderate level.

Myth # 2: You have to be in shape to work out.Wrong ! You don’t need to be in shape to take a short walk or bike ride.

Myth # 3: You can’t work out if you are too old. Wrong! Activity will help you feel better no matter what age you are. Moderate intensity exercise should be perfectly safe. Of course, It is always better to check with your doctor if you have any medical worries Or previous injuries.

Myth # 4: You have to wear expensive tight fitting clothes to exercise. Wrong! Your old baggy t-shirt and sweat s or shorts are fine. Comfort is the most important factor. You should also be able to move in your work out clothes. Supportive athletic underwear (bras and jockstraps) will help you feel more comfortable.

Myth # 5: You shouldn’t work out unless you can work out a lot – or more is always better. Wrong! Moderate levels of exercise can produce health benefits. Any activity is better than no activity.

Myth # 6: If an activity is fun it is not exercise. Wrong! Exercise should be fun. The more fun you make it, the more likely you are to stick with it. That’s why working out with a friend or a personable fitness instructor is a great route to take.

Myth # 7: You don’t need to drink water unless you are thirsty. Wrong! Studies have shown that it is important to drink water before, during and after exercise if possible. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. Drinking water will help you have a successful exercise experience.

Myth # 8: All fitness instructors and personal trainers are drill sergeants. Wrong! Most fitness professionals are caring people who are genuinely interested in your mental and emotional well-being in addition to your fitness level. Most will be happy to support and encourage you in any way they know how.

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