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How to Start an Exercise Routine and Make it Stick

If you haven’t budged from your couch in, oh say, 6 months or more, and if even the thought of the summer heat makes you sweat, you probably won’t be able to jump headfirst into one of those fitness app routines. You know the ones, where HIIT is the primary focus, and they expect you to know already what a Russian twist is or how to execute a high knee properly. That isn’t healthy for anyone to jump into something so severe so quickly. Sometimes, all it takes is knowing where to start to create an exercise routine just for you and how to make it stick.


#1. Be realistic about your starting point.

Overreaching, when it comes to starting an exercise routine, can cause injury and make an already difficult feat nearly impossible. Where you are now is entirely different from where you ended a month or two or a year ago. You need to know where you are now, even if that’s the very bottom rung. Start by evaluating what you’re capable of now in your everyday activities. If it helps, write out a chart that outlines any physical activity you do during the day. Even if it’s just climbing the stairs to your second-floor apartment, it counts. Determine if it’s low, medium, or high activity and chose a place to start to reflect it.


#2. Talk to your doctor before starting any kind of rigorous exercise.

This sort of goes without saying. If you have any kind of issues or illnesses, it’s best to speak with your doctor to discuss what would be best for you. If you’ve had knee surgery, your doctor would probably advise you not to do too much running. It can have a devastating effect on your knees. If you have an illness or other condition that limits your amount of activity, your doctor will be able to advise that as well. Be smart and make sure that what you’re doing is safe for you.


#3. Start low and slow.

Start small. Perhaps building your endurance through jogging or to help create a little strength in your body with some yoga. Move slowly, increasing difficulty over time. This is easier said than done. You don’t want to stagnate by leaving too much time before taking the next step up, so read your body and be honest about when you need to pull back or push forward. This may take some trial and error, but bringing it back to where you feel challenged but not overwhelmed is always an option.

#4. Try new things. Keep what sticks.

I would never have guessed that I liked yoga. It had always seemed weird to me, and with my anxiousness bestowing on me an inability to sit still, it just didn’t seem to be in the cards for me. That was until I found the Yoga with Adriene channel on YouTube. She integrates variants into her routines for those like me who find holding one position correctly still impossible. The value in trying new things is that you’ll walk away with experience and new knowledge about yourself. Even if you decide that indoor rock climbing isn’t for you, you got a great work out in and know to keep moving on to the next one. Perhaps rugby?


#5. Be consistent

They say that it takes roughly 21 days or three weeks to develop a new habit. If you can get yourself to build that habit, your brain slowly starts to rewire itself to make doing that thing more comfortable. This applies to both good and bad habits. That’s why being consistent in your exercise routine is so important. Try a 30-day challenge, if you can’t resist one. Every day for 30 days can instill a habit into your day. This will work for nearly everything you want to do. Pick a month on the calendar and go for it.


#6. Write down why you’re doing this.

Is it for health reasons? To get back into something you love? To bring a little more energy into your life? Whatever it is, write it down. Keep track of your goals as well, and how you accomplish them or they change over time. Make notes of what you enjoy and what you hated. If it helps you remember, write down why you didn’t like it. There will come a time when everything feels like it’s too much and you’ll want to quit. That’s when you pull out your list and remind yourself that you can’t quit. There’s a reason you wanted to exercise in the beginning, and you don’t want to give up. But when you do falter (yes, I said when), bring yourself back to center. Feel pride that you’ve worked so hard and that you’re coming back to the start.


When it comes to your health, it’s best to take charge and put exercise back into your life. Both exercise and diet are the most significant contributing factors in your body’s overall health, so make sure to include both. While that’s easier said, these few tips should help get you steps closer into making that ideal mind and body a reality.

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