The key is in factors that you already control.
Most mornings you will find Diane, 65, at the gym starting her day with a workout. She has always performed some form of exercise, although very sporadic, she has now worked to be more consistent in her routine.
Diane doesn’t have to make herself go to the gym; it has simply become part of her lifestyle. And anyone over 50 can make the transition from sporadic workouts to a more committed routine. The key to becoming a lifelong exerciser has less to do with access to a gym and more to do with factors that you can control.
Here are seven ways you can start working out — and stick with it:
1. Schedule It
Most people who are regular exercisers self-regulate their time to include exercise as part of their normal day. If you find that you are never able to find the time, then scheduling an appointment for exercise will help you be more consistent. This requires actually blocking off time in your calendar and treat it like a medical appointment since it will improve your health.
While working out in the morning increases your chance of sticking with it, choose a time that works for you. Some people prefer midday workouts, while others are more consistent with late-afternoon sessions. The best time for you to workout is when you will be the most consistent.
2. Create Your Support Network
Research shows that having a workout partner makes you more likely to stick with an exercise program. Some people will prefer to take exercise classes for the camaraderie and social support instead of exercising by themselves.
Talk to your significant other and friends other about your intentions and get him, her, or them on board. You may find that some of your friends have similar goals and together you can help each other reach them.
Diane has belonged to the same gym for more than 20 years and has made longstanding friends there. When she was younger it was only about exercising, but later the social part of the gym and the friends there became a source of enjoyment.
3. Increase the Intensity
It may sound counterintuitive, but pushing yourself a little harder than normal can increase the pleasure you derive from exercise. A recent study published found that increasing the intensity, doing a more challenging workout that includes intervals as opposed to steady-state cardio, can increase the amount of enjoyment you get from your workout. And when you feel good after the workout, you’re more likely to want to keep doing it.
4. Get Outside
Do you hate working out in a gym? Then don’t do it! Get outside and go for a hike, a run, a swim, play tennis, ride a bike, go standup paddle boarding. Anything that is a better fit with your lifestyle and is physical exertion is still exercise.
There are so many opportunities to exercise. At this point in your life, you can make yourself a priority. We traditionally think of exercise as doing something for 30 minutes or longer, but even 10 minutes is fine. Try new things and see what you enjoy. Enjoyment does help with adherence over time.
5. Protect Your Body
Regardless of what you choose to do for exercise, it’s important to include range-of-motion activities on a regular basis. That might be taking yoga once a week or doing flexibility or stretching exercises several times a week. This will help reduce your risk of injury and help you maintain your mobility as you get older.
Also, 2-3 days of strength training every week. For women especially, I always encourage strength training. This make sure you have the strength to continue to do the everyday tasks you may now take for granted.
6. Develop Intrinsic Motivation
People who exercise for extrinsic reasons, like to lose weight or to look a certain way, aren’t as likely to stick with it as those who have intrinsic motivation, which is doing exercise for its own sake. Being mindful about your workouts, paying attention to the feeling of moving your body and the satisfaction you feel at the end of workout, can help develop this inner motivation and stick with exercise after the earlier goals are long gone.
7. Invest in Your Health
Everyone is looking a magic pill to make them look and feel better. Exercise has the ability to affect you physically, emotionally, intellectually and cognitively. It’s not something you have to work hard to do! You have to figure out how to incorporate it into your daily life so you’re able to do the things you want to do and have the quality of life you want. Exercise is one of the things that will allow you do that.
Make exercise a part of your lifestyle. When you finish a workout you feel great. There’s no other way to put it. So why would anybody stop doing things that make them feel good?
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The key is in factors that you already control.