Keep Going

Congratulations! You’ve started a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity. Unfortunately, it can be hard to keep an exercise habit going long-term.

Which of these barriers get in your way?

Not enough time. Try scheduling a time for physical activity each day, just like other appointments. This makes exercise a priority, while giving you the flexibility to fit it into your schedule as needed. If you feel like exercise takes up too much of your evening, try morning or lunchtime instead. You can also break it down into smaller time chunks. Try taking 10-minute activity breaks during the day. Always remember that any physical activity is better than none.

Boredom or lack of motivation. Choose activities that you enjoy. Switch up your routine – for example, try walking a new route, taking a new class, or doing intervals. Try exercising with a buddy, and you’ll enjoy the company and the accountability. Start following a fitness blog.

Weather. Have a backup plan for bad weather. For example, instead of walking around your neighborhood, you could walk around the local mall or climb the stairs in your office building.

Injury or illness. Prevent injury by always including a warmup and cooldown. Talk to your doctor or personal trainer about recommendations for low-impact exercise. If you’re too sick to exercise, make sure you get back on the wagon after you’re feeling better.

Too expensive. Try free activities like walking, jogging, or hiking. Do strengthening exercises at home, such as pushups, situps, and squats. You can find many free exercise videos online. Many local community centers and parks and rec departments offer affordable membership, and may have scholarships for people who need them.


Try the “SMART” Skills

These 5 skills are evidence-based strategies that really work to change your behavior for good.

  • S – Set a goal.
    Goals help you to focus and stay motivated. Set goals that are realistic, specific, and time-based. For example, instead of aiming to “exercise regularly”, set a goal to “walk 10 minutes a day during lunch”. Increase your goals over time to keep yourself going.
  • M – Monitor your progress.
    Monitoring, or tracking, is a great way to hold yourself accountable and celebrate your successes. You can monitor your exercise and eating with apps and devices, such as MyFitnessPal or FitBit.
  • A – Arrange your world for success.
    How can you change your environment to make it easier to meet your goals? Arrange your world when you’re strong so that you don’t need willpower when you’re weak. For instance, don’t keep tempting foods in your house. Do keep an exercise bag packed so that it’s easier to hit the gym.
  • R – Recruit a support team.
    Your team might include coworkers, friends, or family members. You may find an exercise buddy or just somebody who can be supportive of your efforts.
  • T – Treat yourself.
    Find ways to reward yourself (not with food). Make a commitment that you will only allow yourself a certain reward when you meet a certain goal. That will help you to work toward it even when your motivation wanes.


Source: “Living SMART: Five Essential Skills to Change Your Health Habits Forever”, by Joshua Klapow and Sheri Pruitt.