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Family Health Magazine - ACTIVE LIVING

Get Motivated!
Tips to help you stick with your exercise program

Your new year's exercise resolution has been going really well, but your initial enthusiasm is starting to wane. Staying motivated is one of the hardest parts of any exercise program. To stay motivated you need to constantly remind yourself that you had good reasons to start.

Remember, a new, strong, healthy, highly energized you is emerging. Consistent exercise not only improves your overall health and fitness, but will also increase your energy level, appearance and self-esteem, while lowering anxiety and stress levels. Consider these strategies to help you stay motivated.

Set goals

Goal-setting is a great way to keep motivated. Often we set big goals, such as losing weight or running a marathon, but get discouraged when results are not immediate. Long-term goals can help, but they must be realistic, measurable, and attainable.

Break your long-term goals into short-term weekly or monthly goals, such as,”I will lose one pound every week for four weeks.” This is one way to enjoy accomplishing your goals. As you succeed, you can set more goals along the way to achieving bigger, long-term goals.

Writing goals down will allow you to monitor your progress and make adjustments if they are too high or too low. Making adjustments is a part of the process of reaching your goals.

Working with a Personal Trainer

Have you have tried everything, but just cannot seem to stick with an exercise program? Have you hit an exercise plateau? Are you very bored with your exercise program and need a real change? Maybe you need a little extra help from a personal trainer.

If you are new to a fitness club, one of the most difficult parts of beginning an exercise program is seeing all the exercise machines lined up with different handles, attachments, buttons, sizes, and noises. A good personal trainer can introduce you to a very simple, effective exercise program. Once armed with knowledge and confidence, you can tackle anything the club has to offer.

Losing motivation to stay with a regular exercise program is one of the main reasons we stop exercising. We all have busy lifestyles and times when interest in exercise is low. Hiring a personal trainer can provide structure and make you accountable. This can help you develop the healthy lifestyle you want. Setting up appointments for specific times is a really good way to stay motivated on tough days when you are busy or life starts to get in the way of exercise.

An individualized program
Everyone has different needs when it comes to exercise. You may want more muscular strength, muscular size and/or cardiovascular conditioning. Perhaps you have had a past injury or want to run a marathon. A personal trainer can work with other health care providers to plan a safe and effective program that considers all your needs. For instance, if you are recovering from injury a personal trainer can work with your physiotherapist to develop a program that fits your rehabilitation needs and your exercise training goals. A personal trainer who knows how your body works, and what your goals are can improve your results with an individualized fitness plan.

Break through the plateaus
You may have been training and exercising for some time, but are not achieving the results that you wanted. It is very common for the benefits of exercise and training to plateau as your body becomes accustomed to an exercise program. A personal trainer can shake up your program by adding variety with a few different exercises, refocusing goals, and providing the necessary motivation to push you through those tough times.

Effective time management
How many times have you gotten ready to go to the gym, walked in, looked at all the people working out, and thought to yourself ”What am I going to do today?” Then you spend 15 minutes looking at all the machines and weights before finally deciding on a program. A personal trainer has a plan that makes the most of the time you spend at the gym. You do not need to waste time thinking about it. All you need to do is make it to your appointment. Your personal trainer will take it from there.

Supervised training
Personal trainers give you one-on-one attention to make sure you are doing all exercises with proper technique and form. This way, you get all the benefits of your program without getting injured. Supervised training is one of the key ways for an athlete to get the most out of workouts and improve from day to day.

A personal trainer has the knowledge and experience to decide when you should move up or down in weight for a particular exercise. Having a personal trainer to tell you when it is time to lift a little more weight can help you work through those tough training times. The trainer also knows when to back off when you need to rest.

Improve your fitness knowledge
Education is key to meeting your fitness goals. Good personal trainers provide you with information about why you are doing an exercise. With knowledge, you can make wiser decisions and stick with your program. You may also want to learn how to train on your own. A good personal trainer will teach you the basics of designing and modifying a fitness program.

Now that you know more about why you want to hire a personal trainer, where can you find a good one? What about qualifications? The best way to find a good personal trainer is to ask the following questions at your local fitness clubs or private personal trainer businesses.

  • What are the personal trainer’s qualifications and certifications?
    • Personal trainers should have a degree in health or a fitness related field. (These are kinesiology, exercise physiology, sport medicine, health and wellness, or physical education.)
    • Personal trainers should have certification from a national recognized organization (NSCA, PFLC, or ALFCA).
  • Do they have liability insurance?
  • What are the policies and procedures?
  • Documentation explaining the cost of service, services provided, cancellation procedure, a contract, and emergency procedures should be provided.
  • The trainer should require that you have approval from your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Finally, you should feel at ease and comfortable. Your trainer’s personality and communication style should fit your expectations. Remember, there are many personal trainers. To make the most of the time you spend exercising, you need the right one for you.

With these tools, you are ready to get moving. Set your goals, have fun and enjoy pursuing and achieving your ultimate fitness goal.

Be realistic

When beginning a new exercise program, always start at moderate intensity and duration. Make adjustments as you feel more comfortable or as your fitness level improves. Be realistic about where you are starting from and where you want to go. Marathon runners do not run 32 kilometres on the first day of training. Injuries are the number one reason for quitting exercise, and they often happen when you are trying to do too much too soon.

Start slowly and build gradually through a progressive increase of time and intensity (speed or weight). For example, when starting a cardiovascular program, you should give yourself plenty of time to warm up, and gradually increase your speed to a comfortable level for about 15 to 30 minutes. Then, spend some time cooling down and finish with gentle stretching. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to hold a conversation while you exercise. If you cannot, you are probably working too hard.

Remember to be realistic about your starting point. You can always adjust your workout if it is too easy, but if you are too sore and tired, it is really hard to stick to any program.

Monitor your progress

Writing down goals helps you monitor your progress, and writing down your workouts can give you the proof. Create a logbook to record your strength program, your cardiovascular program, and even comments on how you feel during and after your workouts.

Most cardiovascular machines keep track of distance travelled, steps taken or even exercise intensity. You can set specific programs on most machines. Every week you can check to see if you have improved. Just make sure you are recording it in your new logbook.

One of the best ways to keep track during exercise is to use a heart rate monitor. This can track your heart rate for exercise intensity, and record calories used during your training session. Some monitors come with their own software, including a logbook and monitoring programs.

Add variety

Adding variety to your program is a great way to stay motivated. For instance, alternate the type of exercise, change your location or time of day, or join a fundraising event. Alternating among different types of exercise is called cross-training. Try running one workout, then weights, next rowing, followed by swimming and finally cycling. This reduces the risk of injuring or overusing one specific muscle or joint, as you are doing exercises that emphasize different parts of your body.

A simple way to spice up your exercise program is to change your workout time. Instead of working out after work, try 5 or 6 a.m. for two weeks. The after-work workout will feel even better after a few early morning workouts! Try signing up for a class in another fitness club for a month, or join an event such as the Terry Fox Run or Mother and Daughter Walk and Run.

Get help from family and friends

Training with a workout partner can make sessions more fun and intense. It can be a great motivator when you would rather watch television or stay in bed. Some days, you just do not feel like working out. Having a buddy or partner along will help you to stick with your exercise program and keep having fun. Since you are also motivating your partner to stay with the program, the need is mutual. This plan works best when you have someone with similar interests, goals and level of fitness.

Look for convenience

Choose exercises that do not require much skill, something that you can do almost anywhere and any time. Body weight exercises (such as push-ups, sit-ups or lunges) or jogging can be done anywhere. Purchasing some fitness equipment allows you to exercise at home, watching your favourite show, while still meeting your fitness goals. If you join a fitness club, choose one near your house or office so you can slip away for a quick workout.

Plan ahead

Schedule time to exercise as you would for any meeting. Some find it easier to write exercise into a day-timer or blackberry so they do not plan another appointment during that time. Sticking to a plan and schedule shows commitment that will help you stay with the exercise program. Remember, you are not a failure if you miss a training session. If you are busy at work or feeling under the weather, take a day off. Just get back on track once you are feeling better.

Work with a personal trainer

A personal trainer can help you meet fitness goals by designing a safe and effective training program specifically for you. Trainers offer motivation and encouragement, and are a great resource for the latest information on health and fitness. A personal trainer can help you fit exercise into your busy schedule. Learning to be more effective with your time will help ensure you are meeting your exercise goals.

Reward yourself

Hard work and commitment deserve a reward. After you meet your short-term goals, treat yourself to a new MP3 player or a night on the town. The excitement and enjoyment you experience by making changes in your life is a reward in itself. Still, enjoying a nice meal at your favourite restaurant is well deserved.

FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2019, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0S1    [AL_FHa07]
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