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Finding a fitness program that suits can help you stick with it

Your best friend loved yoga and swore it changed her life. So you tried a beginners' class at the gym -- but after 10 minutes of Downward Dog, you found yourself bored, uncomfortable, and constantly glancing around the room to see if someone else was doing the poses better than you were.

On to an indoor cycling class. You expected a challenge, but you didn't expect to be struggling for air after 10 minutes (again) and watching the 65-year-old guys on either side of you breeze through the program. Needless to say, that class wasn't for you either.

For a lot of people, that's how it goes with workout after workout. They try something new, and give them up in frustration, boredom, difficulty, or annoyance. Are you doomed to be an exercise dilettante? Not necessarily. You just need to find activities that suit your "workout personality."

When a new fitness craze comes along, it's easy to be convinced by all the hype that you should love it, too. You need a yoga mat, a set of Rollerblades and pads, your own Billy Blanks Tae-Bo library. But before you commit, and wind up discouraged, ask yourself a few questions that will help you figure out your own "workout personality" and choose the exercise program that will keep you motivated.

Owl or Lark?

First, figure out your body clock, says Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Fight Fat After Forty and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. "If you're an early morning type and like to kill your exercise off first thing in the morning, then get to bed at a reasonable hour and get going early. If you're an owl, schedule your workouts for late afternoon or the evening," she says. "If you're an owl, don't be doing lark stuff, or vice versa. You won't stick with it." You might think you hate that yoga class, but maybe you just hate getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get to the gym in time.

Then, ask yourself some questions about other people. Do they motivate you, or do they make you nervous? Are you a social animal, or a solo-flying eagle? "For some people, exercise must to be a social activity. They need to be able to go somewhere, see their friends, talk, and motivate each other to achieve a goal," says Melanie Polk, RD, director of nutrition education at the American Institute for Cancer Research. "Other people want quiet time for themselves while they exercise." Running, swimming, and cycling are all great solo activities. And some workouts can be adapted to suit your sociability. If you'd love to run but hate being out on the road alone, try signing up for a local road-runners club.

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