If you can stick with an exercise program for at least 6 months, it’s a good sign that you’re on your way to making it a regular habit. But getting through the first six months is the hardest part to do. Here are a few tips to help you get back on track after an occasional setback:

Be Realistic - It is difficult to stay on track all of the time. Be sure to set goals that are achievable and create a plan that allows for some occasional flexibility. It is easy to get frustrated if your goals are too ambitious.

Focus on your behavior - Instead of focusing squarely at the goal, set your vision on the action it takes to get there. For example, if you want to better control your blood sugar, focus on walking after dinner three times this week.

Be creative - Even when things go array and your workout may not happen as expected, you can always throw in a set of sit-ups with the evening news or walk around the field at your child’s soccer practice.

Find a partner - You’re not in this alone. Join forces with a relative, friend or co-worker to become more active. You can share tips and support each other throughout the process of becoming healthier.

Anticipate setbacks - Having to overcome a setback is normal from time to time. Realize that no one is always true to their physical activity program. Acknowledge the setback and get started back into your routine.

Track your progress - Write down your program and track your workouts daily. Recording your efforts can help keep you motivated and show progress.

Reward yourself - Pat yourself on the back from time to time. The changes that you are making are not easy. You may even treat yourself to a new pair of walking shoes or a CD you have been wanting.

Source: National Institute on Aging and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

BARRIERS TO SUCCESS

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, two out of three Americans are not getting enough physical activity. Let’s review some barriers to your success and practical tips to overcome them:


Not enough time.

·     Get up 30 minutes earlier and add a morning walk or strengthening workout

·     Squeeze in some sit-ups or jogging in place during T.V. commercials


I’m too tired.

·     Plan activity bouts for the time of day you are the most energetic. You’ll be less likely to skip.

·     Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Running on empty is no way to face a full day.


I’m too lazy

·     Write a contract with yourself to reap the rewards of physical activity. Then start with simple goals and build upon your success.

·     Block off times in your schedule for exercise and keep the appointment.


Exercise is boring.

·     Choose activities you enjoy and think outside of the box. Remember anything that gets you moving counts.

·     Join forces with friends, neighbors or relatives for social interaction and encouragement.


It’s too expensive

·     Go to the library and check out an exercise video.

·     Perform strengthening exercises at home using your body weight or plastic milk jugs partially filled with sand or water as resistance.


Have not had good success in the past

·     Re-evaluate what went wrong, and learn from your mistakes.  Even if you can’t see the results, the benefits of an active lifestyle may be taking hold.

·     Be realistic about how much activity can fit into your day. Only take on as much as you can successfully achieve.


Fear of getting hurt

·     See your physician for a check-up. Ask about what activities you can safely do.

·     Work with an exercise professional for a few sessions. With proper guidance, you’ll feel more confident in no time.


Lack of support

·     Tell those close to you that you are beginning an exercise program. Ask them to support your decision.

·     Get your spouse or someone close to you to walk or play tennis.

Source: National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

INJURY PREVENTION

Preventing injuries is far easier than treating them later. Many people tend to jump into activity programs too quickly looking for instant results. This approach can lead to injuries. Let’s look at a few common training mistakes and how to avoid them:

Progressing too quickly. Be careful not to ramp up your program too quickly. Your body needs time to adjust to the new stressors it is being challenged with.

Not enough variety. Be sure your physical activity program contains all the components of fitness, aerobic exercise, strength training, flexibility, and balance training. The body responds best to a large variety of activities.

Imbalanced strength training. Be sure to train all the major muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders, arms, stomach, and legs) with your strength training program. This creates a balance within the body to maintain proper alignment and posture.  

Improper strength training form. Strength training with poor form can cause injuries. Be sure to understand proper form or consult a personal trainer that is certified by a nationally accredited organization and has experience working with individuals of your age and ability.

Lack of rest time. Rest days are needed for muscle recovery. Taking days off from intense activity can be just as important as days spent training.

Poor nutrition. Any good workout program begins with eating a healthy balanced diet. The energy consumed from the foods we eat provides fuel for our bodies to perform physical activity. And don’t forget about water. Proper hydration is important when you are active.

Confront medical concerns. Be sure to consult with your physician before starting a new activity program. Address any concerns that may predispose you to an injury, such as an unresolved back injury or poor flexibility.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services