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How to Make a Regular Exercise Schedule Stick

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The hardest part in how to make a regular exercise schedule stick is actually starting it. Once you’ve been doing the same workout for a couple of weeks, it gets easier and easier to keep going. The challenge then becomes staying motivated with your new routine!

In this post, we will explore ways to make sure you stick with your schedule and keep making progress towards your fitness goals even when that motivation starts to wane.


Make a plan

The best way to get started is to understand what you want out of a workout routine.  Another thing to consider is the types of exercises you want to do to achieve what you want.  The simpler and fewer the better.  You will also want to consider why you want to exercise – what are you trying to achieve.  You may also need to assess if your workout plans involve exercising at home, outside, or at the gym. At the gym,  plan out equipment you need ahead of time so you don’t waste your time.  Finally, you will want to consider how much time you are committed to putting into an exercise program.  Again start small.

Stop watch - How to make a regular exercise schedule stick

Find a time that works for you

Finding time is not easy for most people.  The best way to do this is to look at your current schedule.  Look for regular routines you already do.  For example, consider going by the gym to work or on the way home from work.  This saves a separate trip to the gym.  You may have to change your dinner time but you will be building off your current routine. 

Similarly, if you wait 5 minutes every morning for your coffee to brew, use that time to do exercises such as pushups or planks.  Finally, Instead of waiting for the elevator at work, consider using the stairs.  There is nothing saying you can’t break your new workout routine into multiple periods of “filler” time throughout the day. 

You will likely be more successful in keeping your new exercise schedule if you build off of or extend your existing routine.


Make sure you’re wearing appropriate workout clothes

Finding the right workout clothes should be based on comfort rather than style.  Make sure your clothing is breathable and won’t hinder your movement.  Other than that, don’t worry about being fashionable.  You should be admired more for your physique than for your new Adidas track pants.


Create an environment conducive to an exercise routine

If you plan to go to the gym, make sure you are comfortable with the equipment and are able to find assistance if you need it.  Also,  find a gym, or a time at the gym, where you are going to be able to go through your routine with minor disruption based on the number of people there. There is nothing more demotivating than waiting for a bench or equipment, throwing your schedule off, and wasting your time. 

Consider exercising from home, or if you live in a warmer climate, outside.  You may find that if you are trying to establish a workout habit, it is easier to do so where you spend most of your time – at home or at work. 


Create an Exercise Program that works

Focus on your fitness goals. I don’t recommend you go to the gym and try every machine there. Nor do I think it is useful to spend all your time doing aerobic exercises.  This may be a waste of your time and may take longer to see results. 

If you are looking to build muscle, spend the majority of your time lifting weights.  Or if you are interested in losing weight, you should do cardio exercises like walking, jogging, or using the elliptical machine.  As a guy, you should still focus on lifting weights to retain your muscle mass as you age.  If you want to lose weight in focused areas, again focus on cardio and physical activity which will tone the area you need to work. 


Man holding stop watch - How to make a regular exercise schedule stick

Reward yourself after every workout routine

Getting a post-workout drink or snack can be an excellent way of rewarding both yourself and your body. Try something with protein as it keeps hunger at bay and will help build muscle.

Whey protein is a great source of protein that comes in different flavors that you can drink as a shake with milk. 

Try avoiding snacks or drinks with a lot of sugar or calories, which may end us undoing a lot of what you worked to achieve during your workout.


Keep track of your exercise progress

Keeping track of your progress isn’t easy.  Pulling out a notepad and remembering to enter info regularly can be difficult.  There are ways, however, that make this easier.  For example, if you wear a smartwatch, such as  Fitbit or Apple Watches, you have access to phone apps that keep track of how much exercise you did and of your heart rate, sleep patterns, as well as other info. 

You may also purchase a smart scale that will record weight and track numerous other things concerning your fitness, such as fat content, muscle mass, and even your dimensions.  These are great tools that seamlessly track your fitness level and physical activity and helps analyze this data.  They can also compare your fitness progress and physical condition from week to week in graph form.  

These tools motivate you to exercise daily, (and remind you if you aren’t) by ‘gamifying’ your workout and fitness progress.


Don’t Over Do It

Moderate-intensity exercise is important to stay healthy. Some exercise is better than none, but too much can actually be bad for your health.  If you overdo it you are prone to injuries, which may keep you from exercising until you recover.  It is also demotivating if you remember how difficult your last workout was.  This may discourage you from further physical activity and may reduce your motivation to return to exercising. 


Get support from friends and family members

It is a good thing, at least in the beginning, to get a certified personal trainer to help create your workout plan.  This especially makes sense if you are going to the gym and need help understanding the myriad of equipment options at the gym.  Once you have learned your exercise plan, the personal trainer is good to keep you motivated.  Alternately, you can find a workout partner to ensure you stay motivated and committed to your exercise program. Your workout buddy can make all the difference in keeping you engaged.

You may also find a good alternative to using a personal trainer or workout buddy through online communities.  For example, if you have a smartwatch or Fitbit, you are able to add “friends” from the open community of users.  You can then earn awards and share them with your friend along with the progress you are making. 


Be patient  – we’re all human

When working out, remember to be patient with your progress.  Rather than thinking about your progress – forget about it. You may find that by constantly tracking your progress you won’t see the large changes that will motivate you.  Rather than checking your progress daily check it weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  


Keep it up!

The key to keeping your exercise schedule is to ensure you have formed an exercise habit.  This can only be achieved if you make your exercise schedule a part of your daily routine so that you don’t even think about what to do or when to work out. Exercising becomes a completely normal part of your day, consider breaking up your routine into multiple exercise periods during the day. 

Create habits by associating where you are and what you are surrounded by with what you do next.  For example, if you go running every morning after waking up – place your runners beside your bed.  If you do planks in the evening but are tempted by television, keep an exercise mat in front of the TV.  

It takes 21 days to form a new habit or an exercise habit so stick with it until then!


Conclusion – How to Make a Regular Exercise Schedule Stick

It’s easy to make excuses for not making exercise a regular part of your routine. You might think you don’t have time, that it will be too painful or difficult, or even that going to the gym is intimidating. But if there are things in life we know can help us feel better, live longer, and improve our general well-being – like eating well and getting enough sleep – then why wouldn’t exercising regularly be just as important? What’s more, when you’re exercise habit is consistent with moderate-intensity workouts, they’ll become easier over time because your body becomes stronger and your mental confidence grows.

If you need support along the way consider joining an online fitness community where people share their progress while also providing motivation through daily messages. For ideas on making habits stick, read The Power of Habit: Make it a Habit for Men Over 50 and on tracking your fitness progress, read The Best Smartwatch for Heart Monitoring and Heart Health


The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the support and guidance of your physician when you are unsure about any health issues.

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Check out Easy Choices Hard Life, Hard Choices the Best Life.

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