By Mike Kwong, PTA, CSCS
Starting and continuing an exercise routine can be a tough task. Fifty percent of those who start an exercise program usually drop out in 6 months. So why is it so difficult to maintain consistency? There are many factors that contribute to this and here are several strategies to combat them!
Location: Make sure you find a place that you are comfortable performing your exercise routine. Some are more likely to work out when they are home while others need to get away from the distractions at home and go to an exercise facility. If you do choose a gym, find one that is conveniently located to home or work. Remember, the most expensive gym membership is the one you never use.
Schedule: Finding out a consistent time to work out is the next step. Is it going to be in the mornings before you start work or in the evenings after work? Weekdays or weekends only? 2 times a week? 3 times? 4 times? Just make sure it is something attainable for you. If you are a person who likes to watch late night TV, then it may not be advisable to try to wake up at 6 am to get your morning routine in before work. More than likely, you will choose that snooze button versus dragging your butt out of bed to do some burpees.
Habit: Make physical activity part of your routine. If you are planning to go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after work, don’t stray away from it. Write them down on your calendar as you would for a doctor’s appointment or dentist visit. Reschedule your usual Friday happy hour retreat for Thursdays if it interferes. Also, I like to pack my bag with my workout clothes the night before—you’ll have one less excuse the following morning.
Social Support: Find a workout partner, personal trainer or exercise in a group setting. Most people are more motivated when somebody else is pushing you. There were times when I would get off of work and feel “tired” and not wanting to go the gym, but my workout partner would just say “see you at the gym” and that would just change my whole perception on how I felt. I needed that extra “kick” to get going. Who knows? You may be the social support your partner needs on other days! Keep each other accountable. Here at CPMC’s Physical Therapy and Wellness clinic, we offer several group classes, including Pilates, Fit for Life, and Total Body Fitness. But, if you feel you need something a bit more individualized, we also have 1 on 1 Fitness training as well. All classes and 1 on 1 sessions are led by our skilled Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants.
Goals: Whether you are a post-op surgical patient needing to improve mobility to reach your arm overhead, a novice runner striving to run a ½ marathon in 3 months, or a person looking to lose the last few pounds/inches to look good in that swimsuit, we all have fitness goals. Commit to your goals. In the beginning, you will be very motivated to achieve these goals, but it is not unusual for your motivation to dip a bit. Find a way to track and monitor your progress. Use a journal or your smartphone to jot down your activity during the day/week. Nowadays, there are even apps to help you with tracking your mileage when you walk, run, bike, etc. If you don’t have a phone that allows you to do these functions, think about purchasing a pedometer, heart rate monitor, or stopwatch to track your progress.
These are some strategies that you can use to adhere to an exercise program. Find the ones that work best for you. Finding activities that are fun and convenient, setting goals, monitoring your progress, performing a variety of exercises and activities as well as having social support are great ways to help with staying compliant. Good luck!