If you’ve decided to start a workout routine, congratulations. You’ve already taken the first step. Staying active can improve both physical and mental health, so exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.1 But sticking with a new routine can be difficult.
To help you stay on track, here are 7 tips to help you stick with your exercise routine.
1. Start slow
Break your fitness goals into small steps to avoid injury-causing exercise mistakes and burnout. Going from never jogging at all to jogging 5 miles a day isn’t easy. But you can start with half a mile a day and build up to one mile a day when you feel ready. Eventually, 2 miles will feel like a breeze, and so on. And if you need to slow down again, that’s OK too. The most important thing is that you’re moving a bit each day.
2. Seek Accountability, not Validation
Good company is hard to beat. And research shows that people feel motivated to work out harder and longer when they do it with a friend.2 So, ask some friends to meet you for a scenic walk or join a water aerobics class together. Seeing friendly faces will motivate you to show up for your workout. If you find positive reinforcement helpful, try sharing your progress with friends and family. You can post photos or videos on social media or keep it more private in a small group chat. Consider finding other people with fitness goals and sharing milestones or tips with each other to keep things fun.
3. Reward yourself
Have you been holding off on treating yourself to something special? Maybe it’s a spa day, a new item of clothing, or concert tickets. Try setting a workout milestone, and then reward yourself when you meet it. For example, when you’ve gone for a walk 14 days in a row, book a massage. Knowing something enjoyable is on the other side can keep you going. Have you been meaning to read more books? Catch up on your favorite podcasts? Workouts are great for squeezing in some listening time. Maybe you’ll get in a good laugh or learn something new while you build your new health routine. And sometimes, a good music playlist can be all the motivation you need to keep moving.
4. Find things that fit into your lifestyle
Don’t feel like you have to overhaul your schedule to start an exercise routine. Think about your day-to-day life and what sort of workout fits into that. If you don’t have time to go to a gym, consider keeping a pair of walking shoes in your car or at your desk. Then, any time you find yourself with 20 minutes to spare, take a quick power walk. Or keep a set of small weights and a resistance band at home so you can squeeze some quick resistance exercises between daily tasks. There are lots of ways to add more activity to your day without changing your routine.
5. Be patient with yourself
To stick with your routine long-term, you need to have a good relationship with exercise. So don’t punish yourself if you miss a workout. Keep things relaxed and be patient. If you miss a day, consider it a rest day, and remember there’s always tomorrow. If you can build a fitness routine that you look forward to, rather than dread, you’re making great progress.
If you have a hard time sticking with your workout routine, just try something different. There are plenty of ways to stay active, and at the end of the day, you want an exercise routine that works for you. Check out some easy beginner workouts and a few exercises you can do at home for ideas to get started.