Let's face it: it's not all that difficult to start a fitness routine. After
all, most of us have done it more than once.
The trouble, of course, comes with sticking with it. All too often, our
initial enthusiasm and energy wanes, we get distracted by other things going on
in our lives, or we don't think we're seeing results quickly enough -- and we
throw in the towel.
By Janice Graham
As you hit one of those big birthdays, you probably worry more about new
wrinkles than about less visible body parts — like your heart. But recent
research has found that each decade of your life is a crossroads, with new
health concerns to worry about. What's more, you need to be aware of these
issues — because your doctor may not be. "Many physicians fail to recognize how
much a woman's risk factors for heart disease evolve over her lifetime," says
Yet many people do manage to hang in there, and would no sooner skip their
regular workout than their morning shower. What's their secret?
A recent study by researcher Diane Klein, PhD, shed some light on the
subject. Long-term exercisers (who had been working out for an average of 13
years) were asked to rank what motivated them to keep up with their
Their answers might surprise you. The exercisers were not as concerned with
powerful pecs and awesome abs as they were with feeling good and being
Here's how the study participants ranked their motivators:
Feelings of well-being
Pep and energy
Enjoyment of the exercise
Making exercise a priority
So, once you have your priorities in the right place, how can you become one
of the fitness faithful?
WebMD has compiled 10 tips for making fitness a habit in your life. To
create the list, we sought the help of Klein, along with long-term fitness buff
Roy Stevens and his wife, Wanda, who is transforming her hit-and-miss exercise
schedule into an almost-daily habit.
1. Do a variety of activities you enjoy. And remember, there's no
rule that says you have to go to a gym or buy equipment.
"We've shifted our perceptions from regimented exercise to physical
activity," says Klein, assistant professor of exercise, sports and leisure
studies, and director of gerontology at the University of Tennessee,
Having a variety of activities -- weight lifting, walking, running, tennis,
cycling, aerobics classes -- will ensure that you can do something
regardless of the weather or time of day.
2. Commit to another person. "The social aspect of exercise is
important for me," says Wanda Stevens, a stay-at-home mom in Austin, Texas.
"I'll let myself off, but if I've agreed to walk with a friend after
dinner, I won't let them down."
She is six weeks into an exercise program, thanks in part to her husband's
support. Roy Stevens, who works as a management consultant, has become her
"in-house personal trainer." They work out together every morning,
doing a combination of aerobics, strength training, Tae Bo, and stretching. If
he's out of town, he gives her a wake-up call, and she takes the dog for a
3. Make exercise a priority. "It has to be a non-negotiable,"
says Roy Stevens.