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10 tips for keeping that New Year's fitness resolution

10 tips for keeping that fitness New Year's resolution

It's a new year, and once again you have vowed to exercise! However, once the initial inspiration has passed, how will you keep your resolutions and motivation? Here are 10 tips to help you follow through with your fitness resolution:

1) Determine your reason why
What is driving you to want to exercise? Studies show that weight loss or fitness goals by themselves typically are not strong enough motivators to keep one going when motivation levels start to run low. Instead, determine what specifically is driving you to make this resolution; what is the reason behind the desire to exercise? Perhaps you want to be able to get up and down off the floor with ease so you can play with your children, or reduce your need for medication, lower your risk for hereditary diseases or climb a flight of stairs without getting winded. Determine the reason why it's important to you that you exercise now. Write it down and post it somewhere where you will see it every day (like the refrigerator door) and use this as your inspiration to help you stay motivated. 

2) Enjoyment factor
Moving your body is supposed to be fun, not a form of torture. Find something you will enjoy doing. Don't adopt a fitness regimen that you'll dread as you'll be more likely to stop doing it. As you develop your plan, think about what your exercise routine will look like, and ask yourself: "Does this look like something I will enjoy and be able to sustain?" Consider what gives you energy and what will increase your success. Maybe, it's participating in group classes, working out with a partner, taking your work-out outside, working out solo, exercising while listening to music, participating in fitness challenges, watching exercise videos in the comfort of your home or using games such as Xbox 360 Kinect games or Wii. There are many options for getting fit, so find one that you enjoy.

3) Be realistic
Start slow and build. Your body needs time to adapt to meet the unaccustomed demands you are placing on it. It can be hard to go from doing little exercise to exercising daily. You are more likely to hurt yourself if you go from zero to 100 in one day and may become too tired and discouraged. 

4) Have a plan
Benjamin Franklin said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." Don't leave exercise up to chance and hope that it happens. Create a specific plan of what you want to do. This will help maximize the time you have set aside and will allow you to complete your full workout. Plus, it will give you a sense of accomplishment when you meet your workout goal. Consider the following when creating your plan: 

  • days and times that will work best for you
  • exercise location (where will you exercise?)
  • purpose of your exercise (endurance, strength, weight loss, reduce stress, etc.)
  • equipment needs 

5) Listen to your body
If you are sick, injured or suspect an injury, take time off. This is your body warning you that it's not fully healthy and that it needs time to recover. When in doubt, consult with a health care provider or an exercise specialist. If you are feeling under the weather and have some energy, maybe do some light exercise. Ultimately, listen to your body, because it will tell you what it needs. 

6) Track your progress
Studies have found that those who write down their goals and track their progress can accomplish more than those who do not. Tracking your exercise gives you a general idea of where you started so you can accurately measure your progress over time, boost confidence and help shift your focus to progress versus how far you may feel from your ultimate goal. 

7) Be patient
It takes about 21 days to develop a habit and about six months before something becomes ingrained into your lifestyle. So be forgiving and stick to it. 

8) Reward yourself
Set small goals and reward yourself with something meaningful when they are met. Perhaps a movie, new fitness gear or a trip to your favorite museum. Small frequent rewards can help keep you motivated. 

9) Create a routine
How can you make exercise a habit? It may be helpful to schedule a time to exercise on your calendar like you would any other appointment. Notify family and friends that you are not available during this time or set a reminder on your calendar or phone. Think of what else you can do to help exercise become a part of your regular routine; your new "normal." 

10) Past and present experiences
Consider your experience level with exercise. Do you know much about the exercises you want to do? Are you familiar with exercises and equipment, or would it be helpful to seek out additional resources and help? If you have tried exercising in the past, what worked well? Recognize any obstacles that may impede your progress. What challenges have come up in the past that have prevented you from exercising consistently? Then think of possible solutions so these challenges don't prevent you from succeeding this next time. You might want to consult with a personal trainer or exercise specialist. These experts can help you determine an appropriate workout, recommend exercises specific to your goals and provide helpful feedback regarding form and technique. 

About 45 percent of Americans make New Year's resolutions, and improved fitness is among the top ten resolutions made. Sadly, only about 8 percent of those who make such a resolution are successful. Most give up. By using these ten tips, you should be able to reach your goals.

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