Revised 5/31/97

Fifty percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out within 6 months. Even dedicated exercisers have to overcome obstacles that could prevent them from staying with a program. The following tips from a sports psychologist are designed to help us start, and stay with, an exercise program.

Believe the Message
Exercise WILL make a change by adding both years to your life and life to your years. Properly performed, and with the right attitude, exercise shouldbe fun and relaxing.
Set Goals
Make them realistic also. Beginning exercisers often set goals that are unrealistic and try to do too much, too quickly. Some veterans spend too much time trying to achieve goals that are not consistent with their age, available time or responsibilities. Each person has to settle into a program that is reasonable in terms of frequency, duration and intensity.
Individualize Your Program
Find an exercise that fits into your schedule, your needs, and your lifestyle. You are not likely to continue a program if you don't enjoy it. Not everyone enjoys jogging, cycling or swimming. Running a mile just plain hurts if you are not conditioned to do it. There are many different types of exercise available. If you need some help getting started, strongly consider hiring a personal fitness trainer to set up an individualized program for you.
Get Support.
Support from spouses, family and peers leads to adherence.
Recognize the Barriers.
In addition to the barriers already mentioned, there are barriers of time, travel, expense, facilities and work demands. If you can identify the problems that interfere with exercise then you can develop a strategy to overcome them. Exercise time HAS to be scheduled. If you wait for freetime, you won't have any. Exercise is not a luxury you do only if you have the time. You have to make time for it. Many programs are bestscheduled in the mornings when potential distractions are less plentiful.
Exercise, Don't Intellectualize!
In other words, like the slogan says, "JUST DO IT!!!". Understanding the benefits of starting or continuing an exercise program is a good first step. Setting goals, individualizing your program, and surrounding yourself with a support group are admirable achievements. Recognizing the barriers is necessary, but not the solution in itself. The solution is doing it. Get past all the intellectual preliminaries and focus on adhering to your program. If you can make it past the first 3 weeks then exercise will probably become a part of the rest of your life.

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