Starting a fitness program is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. There are many benefits: weight loss, preventing heart disease and diabetes, lowering your risk for stroke, better sleep, more confidence, lower stress levels and more.
The most challenging part is sticking with it over time. Did you know 50 percent of people who start an exercise program drop out within the first six months? For long-term success, focus on getting a good start.
Before diving into a new exercise routine, it’s a good idea to check in with your primary care physician for an overall health assessment. During the assessment, your doctor will conduct a general history and physical exam, including listening to your heart and lungs, and asking about any symptoms or health problems that may require more testing. After the visit, your doctor can determine if you’re healthy enough to exercise.
Your doctor can also guide you as you start an exercise plan and provide helpful advice along the way. A large part of primary care is prevention of diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Helping people achieve a healthy weight lowers their risk for these conditions.
After getting cleared by your physician, you’re ready to start. Here are some tips for getting into exercise – and sticking with it over time:
- Set measurable, achievable goals – Working toward a goal can help you stay motivated – even when things get challenging. The confidence boost you’ll get as you achieve your goals can further motivate you to stick with your new fitness routine.
- Schedule it – Carve out time in your schedule for exercise and add it to your calendar just like you would a doctor appointment or dinner with a friend.
- Find something you love – Try different activities until you find something you enjoy. Whether it’s running, cycling, Zumba, yoga or something else – sticking with exercise is easier when it’s something you love. Another tip is to switch it up every now and then to add variety and keep things interesting.
- Avoid doing too much, too soon – It’s always best to start off slowly to avoid injury and burnout. Remember – you don’t have to go fast – you just have to go. Many people start and fail a few times before really getting into it. You just have to keep trying.
- Get a workout buddy – Having someone to exercise with makes it more enjoyable and fun. It also helps keep you accountable – you’re less likely to skip a workout if you know someone else is counting on you.
If you find your motivation wearing thin over time, think about how much better you feel about yourself when you exercise. Stick with it and you’ll improve your health with benefits you’ll notice now and well into the future.