How can I stay motivated with a walking and exercise program?

Motivation is something we all struggle with from time to time.  To stay motivated in a walking program you can mix up your route every once in a while.  There is nothing more boring than seeing the same thing everytime you walk.  For example: Monday - walk around your neighborhood, Tuesday - walk on a local trail, Wednesday - walk somewhere with some hills, Thursday - walk a different route in your neighborhood, Friday - hike in the woods. 

Some people also enjoy listening to music and even books while they exercise.  You can also find an exercise buddy; you can hold each other accountable.  Whatever activities you decide to do as part of your exercise program, they should be activities that you enjoy.  Set goals for yourself, both short term and long term.  Make your short term goals easily attainable, like baby-steps, that will move you forward and get you closer to your long term goals.

Staying motivated to stick with a walking and exercise program can be difficult sometimes.  Pick a time of day that works best for you.  First thing in the morning works best for most people because its done before any unexpected events occur that could prevent one from taking that walk or working out.  You may also want to find a workout buddy with similar goals and fitness level.  We tend to keep our commitments to others before we keep our commitments to ourselves.  A workout buddy can truly help motivate and encourage you as you accomplish your goals.  Most importantly, set reasonable goals and times for your workouts.  If they are not reasonable, most people will not stick with them.

Ways to stay motivated are endless. Here are just some of the many:

  • Set a goal. In order to be successful with exercise, you need to have a goal which will give you something to work towards.
  • Don’t have a goal; strive to complete 10,000 steps a day or sign-up for a walk for charity.
  • Walk with someone. Having a workout buddy is sometimes the best way to stay motivated.
  • Listen to music that motivates you!

Most of all do it because you know that the benefits are going to be worth the effort! Exercise is great for the heart and mind and the more you do the better you will feel!

It is natural to lose motivation to continue a walking or exercise program. But the health benefits you give up by stopping are too great. Here are common reasons for losing motivation for an exercise program and things you can do to keep going. Among the many rewards you will reap is a lower risk of heart disease.
Overcoming Motivation Blockers
  • You are short on time and have many work and family commitments. When you “don’t have time,” the best strategy is to build shorter but more frequent periods of physical activity into your day - 10 minutes two to three times a day.
  • You cannot afford a gym. Enjoy the fresh - and free - outdoors: walk, hike, run, or play tag with your kids. You can also use strategies such as checking out an exercise video from a library, taking the stairs rather than an elevator whenever possible, or doing sit-ups, push-ups, etc. at home.
  • The weather is not good for exercising. Walk around a mall, go to a gym, or try an exercise DVD or videogame at home.
  • Exercising in public makes you feel self-conscious. If you’re self-conscious, try avoiding the crowds when exercising. If you belong to a gym, go during off-peak hours. Or avoid gyms altogether and be active in your own home or blend into the great outdoors.
  • You are bored with your exercise program. Be social. Get a family member or a friend to join you in your efforts to be physically active. Also, only choose activities that you enjoy and don’t be afraid to vary from your usual routine and try new things.
  • You are too tired. Fit in physical activity in the morning, before the day tires you out. Or use your lunch break to get in a burst of activity. You can also adjust the intensity of your exercise and go more slowly. Once you get going, you may surprise yourself and pick up the pace.
To stay motivated with a walking and exercise program you can:
  • Find pleasure in your exercise by choosing an activity you like to do.
  • Schedule your workouts, put them on your calendar and stick to your plan.
  • Workout with friends and family, or join a running club, dance group or sports team.
  • Congratulate yourself on this positive approach to your new healthy lifestyle.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.