Getting fit is a common New Year’s resolution—15 percent of resolvers intend to start working out in the new year most years—but it too often fades quickly. Here are some tips to help you create a fitness routine that will stick with you:
- Talk to your doctor. It does you no good to just flail. Find out what your doctor thinks you need to work on—burning fat, upper body strength, cardio, or whatever it is—and, more importantly, what you shouldn’t do.
- Set realistic goals. The feeling of achievement from hitting your target is a more important component of a lifestyle change than the actual size of the accomplishment, and you’re less likely to quit if you’re succeeding regularly.
- Start slow. One of the most common reasons people give up is because the exercise is too hard to do, but the type and intensity of your workout is up to you. Try to underestimate, rather than overestimate, what you can do. You can ramp it up if you need to, and you’re less likely to be discouraged.
- Make time. Don’t attempt to go to the gym every day. It’s easier to find an hour two or three times a week than every day. In addition, as with biting off more than you chew, if you commit to too intense a schedule out of the gate, the temptation to give up when you miss a day is stronger.
- Do what you like. Forget what you’ve read or been told about what will give you a good workout. If you avoid an exercise or a piece of equipment, or do it halfheartedly, because you hate it, you won’t get the full effect, and that makes a bad workout regardless of what it actually is.
- Learn what you’re doing. If you’re doing the exercise or using the equipment properly, it’s a better work out, more enjoyable, and less likely to cause you injury.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to start to get fit, but it’s most effective if you’re in it for the long haul.