Why is it often easier to start a fitness program than it is to maintain one? Whether your fitness goals involve meeting weight loss goals or just increasing physical activity, the struggle is often the same — maintaining motivation and consistency. It’s an experience common to many. Statistics show that less than a quarter of Americans are getting the recommended amount of exercise to stay healthy.1
The potential benefits of a regular exercise program — and its impact on overall health and longevity — simply cannot be ignored. So, it’s absolutely worth finding ways to achieve and maintain good physical fitness. Learn exactly how much you should be working out to reap the benefits of exercise, as well as helpful tips to get you started — and more importantly, to keep going.
How Much Exercise Should You Be Getting?
The CDC recommends that adults should get 150 minutes of physical activity weekly. This might seem like a lot, but it comes down to just 30 minutes a day, five times a week.2
Here’s the thing: you can mix up your exercise routines. It’s not just about weight training and gym exercises. In fact, you can count any kind of activity that gets you up and moving towards your daily half-hour of exercise. You can even combine activities of differing intensities (like brisk walking or other aerobic exercises with muscle-strengthening workouts) in your workout plan.3
How Can You Overcome Common Obstacles To Exercising?
Getting in the recommended amount of exercise is exactly what many people grapple with. And while there are practical and obvious concerns to factor in — like a busy, overfilled schedule, or previous injuries or health conditions — mental obstacles may also keep you from a consistent fitness program.4
It could be a lack of knowledge, self-confidence, or motivation. It could be a lack of energy. With the internet full of (often free) resources to help create fitness plans, it can’t be said that people have no help. But it can be true that they lack support in creating the right mindset to commit and stay consistent.
You may find that the biggest barriers to reaching your fitness goals are related to your mindset.
- You may have set expectations that are too high.
- You may believe you need to spend time and money you don’t have just to get fit.
- You may be getting easily discouraged.
You may have barricaded yourself with excuses that might seem insurmountable at first, but remember: It’s a matter of getting into the right, motivated frame of mind (and finding what works for you).5
Do You Make Any Of These Common Excuses?
Now, the list that follows isn’t meant to make you feel defensive or guilty about not exercising. In fact, these are some of the most common obstacles people say they have. There are ways around them, and they don’t have to prevent you from benefiting from a consistent fitness routine.
- I don’t have enough time.
- My family keeps me busy.
- My work takes all my time and energy.
- Working out is too expensive.
- Exercise is hard, and I’m not very athletic.
- I’m too old.
- It’s too hot/cold out.6
Ultimately, it’s a matter of how to make physical activity work with you and for you given your lifestyle. Read on for tips that can help you surmount these perceived roadblocks.
What Can I Do To Start And Stay On My Fitness Program?
A workout routine is a habit. So, here are some best practices you can adopt to form one. It bears mentioning that you should always talk with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.
Don’t Be Afraid To Start Small
A five-minute YouTube exercise video is a great place to begin — so is taking five minutes to walk around the block or to dance around to your favorite song. If 30 minutes seems like way too long to be moving around vigorously, or you feel you simply can’t spare that much time, it’s mentally much easier to convince yourself to just “take five.” The key is to get moving: It’s ultimately better than nothing, and if you do it often enough, you may find yourself able to do more.7
Try Something New
If you’re not motivated to hit the gym and feel it isn’t for you, there are a lot of other options to work up a sweat. Dance classes, biking, hiking, kickboxing, joining your company or community sports teams, or even yoga or pilates might be the change of pace you need. Be on the lookout for new types of workouts or new exercise trends that might pique your interest.8
Get Your Family Involved
If you feel your kids and home life take up all your time, make room for more physical family activities. Your kids might love to do obstacle courses in the yard or even just race around the block. Get them to help out with chores that can get your heart rate up. It’ll be fun for the entire family, and you’ll get health benefits out of it, too.9
Follow A Structured Program (If It Suits You)
Some people thrive on goal-setting, working with professional guidance, and hitting milestones. If this sounds like you, consider getting a fitness trainer to create a solid — but doable and adjustable — program for you to follow. This can help take the guesswork out of how and when you should exercise, and it could help you see results that keep you motivated.10
Try Exercising At The Same Time Each Day
Studies show that setting aside the same time each day to work out may help establish consistency. Carve out a few minutes in the morning, during your lunch break, or after work to destress with a quick workout routine.11
It Isn’t Do Or Die, It’s Go With The Flow
In the end, adjusting your expectations and being kinder to yourself could potentially help encourage you to stay consistent. Listen to your body, allow yourself to adjust accordingly, but just keep going — there’s no point pressuring yourself to the point of (perceived) failure. When it comes to maintaining a fitness routine, slow and steady wins the race.