2. Pick a Comfortable Pace for Fitness continued...
"There does seem to be evidence in the lab that if you have people walk at their own pace they are going to feel better than people who are walking at moderate intensity," he says. "We aren't sure if it's because they feel in control, or because they are walking slower" and not overwhelmed by the exercise, he says.
Research into self-paced exercise is under way. While waiting for those results, Williams recommends people try it. Almost everyone feels good after they've done any kind of exercise, Williams says. "The way you feel while you are doing it is more important" to long-term adherence.
His hunch? "The people doing the self-paced exercise won't find it aversive and will continue to exercise over the course of months or years."
3. Get Your Groove On: Exercise to Music
Music makes exercise more enjoyable and more tolerable. In a recent study from Brunel University in West London, music not only enhanced endurance by 15%, but also helped those working out get more pleasure from exercise. (They pumped to tunes from Queen, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Madonna.)
In another study, published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, researchers found that listening to a favorite piece of music decreases the influence of stress caused by fatigue, increasing the comfort level of doing the exercise.
The kind of music doesn't matter at all, says Stevens. The right music? "Whatever makes you want to get up on your feet," he says.
4. Lean on Friends for Fitness Support
Exercising with others -- an entire group or just your spouse or a friend -- can make workouts not only more fun but also more regular, Stevens says. "The social part sweetens the deal," he says. "Find someone you want to spend time with -- a friend, a family member. Make a deal with them, a blood oath to exercise with them."
A lot of people find they enjoy group exercise, he says. If you do, consider a hiking group, mall walking group, aerobics class, or dance studio.
In one study, researchers found that women who find it hard to stick to an exercise routine worked out more regularly and got better results when they worked out with their daughters.