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How Not To Be a Fitness Drop-out

To be effective, exercise must be done regularly. Exercise does nothing for you if done sporadically. It has to become a part of your life the way brushing your teeth and taking a bath are. It must be a healthy habit you do without having to even think about it. Psychologists say all habits, whether good or bad, become ingrained in 21 to 30 days. Yet, fitness industry statistics show that the "mortality rate" of six-month exercisers is 50 percent! It is obvious that it takes a lot more than 30 days for exercise to truly become a part of your every day life. Here are some motivational tips to help keep you exercising for the rest of your life.

Set a goal.
If you don't know where you are going, you will never get there. Having a goal is all-important to any fitness program but don't set vague, abstract goals like "I want to get in shape". Be specific. You want to get in shape for what? To be able to walk longer, to get rid of your aches and pains, etc. Set long term and short term goals. For example, a long-term goal would be to join a 10-kilometer running marathon. Your first short-term goal would be to run two kilometers three times a week. Once you have achieved that, your next short-term goal would be to run three kilometers three times a week. You would continue increasing your short-term goals until you reach your long-term goal of participating in the marathon.

Keep a progress chart.
Competition is what keeps sports interesting. A progress chart allows you to compete with yourself. It tells you in black-and-white how you are doing now compared to when you started. There is also a certain sense of accomplishment when you fill your chart after a hard workout.

Work out with a friend.
A friend will not only give you companionship but will also encourage you to workout when you don't feel like it or vice-versa. If you are new to exercise and would like to join a fitness center, it is less intimidating to join if you sign up with a friend.

Don't overexercise.
One of the fastest ways to quit working out is to be burned out from too much exercise. Many people think that if some exercise is good for you, then more must be better. Don't make this mistake. If you feel your workout is too strenuous, modify it. Otherwise, you will begin to dread it instead of looking forward to it.

Cross train.
If you are the type of person who gets bored easily, cross training will keep your interest up. Cross training is doing different types of workouts on different days or on the same exercise session. An example would be running on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, swimming on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and rollerblading on Saturday. However, if you are the type of person who likes the familiarity of a regular and gets disoriented when you change activities, it would be better to stick to just one type of workout until you master it very well and then add another type slowly.

Use positive or negative visualization.
Visualization is a very important tool in motivating yourself to stay exercising. You can use either positive or negative visualization depending on the kind of personality you have. Positive visualization would include imagining your new body shape, imagining yourself getting stronger and having more stamina. Negative visualization, in contrast, would mean imagining yourself with a flabby weak body every time you don't feel like working out. The mind is a powerful thing. Use it to your advantage.

Increase your exercise knowledge.
Gaining scientific knowledge is a very important key to motivating you and staying motivated. Knowledge is power. If you understand why you are doing an exercise, chances are you will work harder at it. According to Mark Henriksen, medical writer, knowledge makes the difference between faking your way through a set of crunches (no results), and being able to visualize the working muscle, contracting it fully on each set (great results).

Invest in exercise.
For some people investing in an expensive gym membership or an expensive exercise machine is a great motivator. For others, making an extravagant bet with a friend does the trick.

Don't use exercise as an excuse to eat more.
Many people start exercising as a way to lose weight and then get discouraged when they find that they haven't lost as much weight as they thought they would even though they are getting fitter. Some reasons for the slow weight loss could be muscle gain (when you exercise it is normal to gain in muscle weight while losing fat) or genetics (you have inherited a stocky build). However, a common reason is that many people think they are entitled to eat more food that anyway they are burning the calories off through exercise. Avoid this pitfall if weight loss is one of your fitness goals.

Organize your day to make exercise fit into your schedule.
As much as possible, start your workout at the same time each day. This will eliminate the hassle of battling with you everyday about when to start working out. Treat exercise as an essential appointment you make with yourself. Schedule it in to your organizer as you would any other appointment.

Change your exercise perspective.
Instead of looking at exercise as a chore and punishment for allowing yourself to get out of shape, think of it as the best gift you can give yourself. Your workout sessions are special times that are for you and you alone. It's amazing how a change in perspective can transform your whole picture of exercise from a form of drudgery to a time to recharge your external and internal batteries.

Choose exercise activities you enjoy.
People are always asking what the best exercise is. The answer is "the one you enjoy the most". If you do not particularly enjoy exercising with other people, aerobic classes will be a big turn-off no matter how effective they are for you. Choose exercise activities you enjoy and you will dramatically increase your chances of sticking to the exercise.

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