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Exercise Goals for Healthy Living

Fall Exercise You know it's important to stay active but still find yourself falling back on old habits. What can you do? Planning for exercise isn't hard if you make it a priority. To do that, you need to develop goals and an exercise plan that matches your needs and interests.

Knowing that you should exercise 30 minutes three to four times a week is not enough; you actually have to DO the exercise. Learn to keep up your motivation by setting exercise goals that fit your lifestyle.

Step up to exercise

These steps can help you define your personal goals and put them into action.

Step One: Figure out why you want to exercise. It sounds basic, but not all of us exercise for the same reasons. Knowing what motivates you can help you stay focused. Write down a list of what you hope to get from exercising. You may be unhappy that your clothes fit tighter than last fall. You may want to reduce your risk of heart disease. You might hope to play with your kids without getting winded. Or, you may want to work out your stress, feel more relaxed and sleep better.

Step Two: Design an exercise program that will meet your goals. If your goal is endurance, gradually build up the amount of time you work out. If you want to lose weight, you need to do an aerobic exercise, such as walking or running, for at least 45 minutes at a time. If you are concerned about osteoporosis, weight–bearing exercise, such as walking, will help build strong bones. If you're not sure what exercise is best for your needs, talk with a trainer at a local gym. The ideal is an exercise program that incorporates aerobic exercise on some days, exercises to improve strength on other days, and balance and flexibility exercises on most days. The key is to find an exercise routine that you enjoy, then commit to doing it.

Step Three: Choose your workout time wisely. One key to success is what time of day you plan to exercise. If you schedule your workout for the morning, but you are not a morning person, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Pick the time of day when you have the most energy and enthusiasm. Do you enjoy getting up early and starting the day off with a brisk walk? Or do you prefer working out your stress at the end of the day? Whatever your answer, that's when you should schedule most of your exercise.

Staying motivated

One of the differences between a person who exercises regularly and a person who doesn't is motivation. Each of us is motivated by different things. Find out what motivates you, and it will be easier to stick with good habits. These tips can help you put on your sneakers instead of turning on the television.

Make exercise a priority. Yes, getting exercise is as important as cleaning the house, paying your bills, or reading to your child. Simply put, exercise can help you have a healthier, longer life. So when you plan your week, schedule time for exercise, and treat it like an appointment that you can't break.

X marks the spot. Studies show that some people are more likely to exercise when they keep track of their workouts. Try marking an X on your calendar every day that you work out. This may give you a sense of accomplishment, which will help you keep going. Or, try putting an X on the days you skipped. Seeing too many X's may make you mad enough to pick up where you left off.

Keep an exercise diary. Another way to keep track of your workouts is with an exercise diary. Jot down how long and how far you bike, how much weight you lift, or how many laps you swim. Or, if you own a computer, you may want to keep track on a spreadsheet. No matter what method you choose, having a record of what you've done, and of all of your personal bests, may be just the reward you need to keep going.

Join an event. Sign up for a fitness event such as a 5K run, a charity bike ride or walkathon. Getting in shape to compete in a race can be a good motivator. A charity event can be motivating because when you cross the finish line, other people will benefit, too.

Exercise with a partner. Finding a friend to share your workouts gives you a chance to be social while you get fit. And knowing that your friend is relying on you will help keep you motivated.

Join an exercise class or group. Aerobic, yoga, or other classes commit you to an exercise program and offer the opportunity to make new friends with the same fitness goals.

Dealing with setbacks

Old habits can be hard to change, and setbacks do happen. It doesn't mean that you're a failure. It just means that you're human. Try to look at a setback as part of the process of making change. When you find you've skipped a few workouts, make a plan to simply start again the next day.

Don't focus on what you've missed; focus on what you plan to do. Make it your top priority. New habits won't form overnight. So keep at it. Your good health is worth the effort.

~ Wellness Library Health Ink and Vitality Communications