For every 10 people who start an exercise program, 7 will drop out within 6 months…
It’s a sobering statistic. The question is… WHY?
We’re all aware that regular exercise provides us with a stronger immune system, improved moods, more energy, increased fitness, improved body composition and muscle tone – to name just a few. With all the ‘up sides’ to exercise, why is it that many of us find it a challenge to stick with an exercise program? In truth, starting a fitness program is actually very EASY! It’s staying the course, week after week, month after month that often proves to be the real challenge!
Some of the most common reasons for quitting an exercise program are as follows:
1) Boredom – Lack of exercise variety, performing the same exercise routine over and over, week after week, month after month.
2) Lack of time – How to find the time to exercise when we’re already so busy with work, family responsibilities and social commitments?
3) Lack of accountability – Not having one or more persons to hold you accountable to your fitness goals.
4) Lack of results – Despite your best efforts you fail to notice tangible results on a regular basis.
5) Lack of motivation – Lack of ‘get up and go’, direction and purpose… “So why am I doing this exercise thing again?!”
If you can relate to one or more of these points, you’re not alone. After all, if everyone stuck with their exercise program, and motivation to exercise wasn’t an issue, the gyms would be overflowing and personal trainers would be out of a job!
Here are the top 7 ways to avoid being another dropout statistic:
1. Make time. Have you ever wondered how some of the busiest people miraculously find the time to exercise? It’s about making exercise your number one priority and then making it happen. When it comes to exercise, you should be ‘positively selfish.’ In other words, how can you be expected to be an efficient business person, a productive worker, or an energetic parent unless you’re taking good care of yourself first and foremost? Schedule your exercise time, commit to it, and protect it by gently reminding friends, your partner and children – that this is your time out, you’re busy doing something important and that exercise is a priority you’ll be sticking with. Don’t feel guilty! On the contrary. Be proud of your new priorities and don’t be surprised if people look up to you as a role model and decide to follow in your footsteps.
2. Start gradually. Whether it’s a nutrition plan or an exercise program, make small changes one at a time. That’s the best way to guarantee that the changes you make will be long lasting. After all, you’re making changes that should last the rest of your life. Take it slowly and before you know it, regular exercise will be something you can’t live without.
3. Add variety. Make a promise to yourself to mix it up and keep it fun and exciting. Vary your training program and activities to challenge your body and your mind. If you’re not sure which exercises or what type of program would suit you best, a fitness instructor or personal trainer can point you in the right direction.
4. Create a support network. It’s far more likely you’ll stay committed to your exercise program if you have a regular fitness partner and/ or someone that you regularly report to and who checks on your progress. Find a training partner who has the same fitness goals and who shares your enthusiasm. For regular support you could join an online fitness group such as the Virtual Workout Club, a walking club, or hire the services of a personal trainer or coach. Many people find that the motivational atmosphere of a gym or attending group fitness classes provides just the support they’re looking for.
5. Keep tabs on your progress. As you progress down the fitness path, it’s a great idea to keep tabs on your progress. Keep an exercise journal to note your increases in fitness, strength and endurance. Monitor your energy levels, body measurements and sleep patterns – basically anything that improves as a direct result of your exercise program. This in turn will motivate you to continue with your exercise program and set new goals to strive toward.
6. When the going gets tough..Ok, so you didn’t lose weight in the first 3 or 4 weeks, or you went on holiday and your nutrition plan went out the window. That doesn’t mean you’re destined for fitness failure and you should quit now! Minor setbacks such as this are only temporary. Expect some challenges along the way. Whether it’s business, relationships or fitness, it’s not always smooth sailing. Stick with your exercise program a little longer and you’ll start to see and feel the positive changes exercise is having upon your day to day life. Challenges, whether big or small, are a great test of character. When the going get’s tough? I think you know the rest…
7. Stay motivated. The key to staying motivated is to give yourself short and medium term fitness goals to aspire to, to make your fitness program fun, and include ‘inspiration’ along the way. Try listening to motivational upbeat music on your mp3 player or IPOD whenever you work out. Create an inspiration wall or ‘vision board’ with motivational images and quotes. Display charts of your improving health statistics. Document the changes in your body shape by taking monthly photos. Most importantly, keep up your positive self talk and surround yourself with positive people. When you reach some of your short term fitness goals (for example working out consistently for 2 weeks, or losing an inch from your waist) reward yourself with an occasional treat such as a book, movie, or dinner out.