Fitness: Tips for staying motivated

Fitness is for life. Motivate yourself with these practical tips. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Have you ever started a fitness program and then quit? If you answered yes, you're not alone. Many people start fitness programs, but they may stop when they get bored, they don't enjoy it or results come too slowly. Here are seven tips to help you stay motivated.

1. Set goals

Start with simple goals and then progress to longer range goals. Remember to make your goals realistic and achievable. It's easy to get frustrated and give up if your goals are too ambitious.

For example, if you haven't exercised in a while, a short-term goal might be to walk 10 minutes a day five days a week. An intermediate goal might be to walk 30 minutes five days a week. A long-term goal might be to complete a 5K walk.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Aim to incorporate strength training exercises of all the major muscle groups into your fitness routine at least twice a week.

2. Make it fun

Find sports or activities that you enjoy, then vary the routine to keep you on your toes. If you're not enjoying your workouts, try something different. Join a volleyball or softball league. Take a ballroom dancing class. Check out a health club or martial arts center. Discover your hidden athletic talent.

Remember, exercise doesn't have to be boring, and you're more likely to stick with a fitness program if you're having fun.

3. Make physical activity part of your daily routine

If it's hard to find time for exercise, don't fall back on excuses. Schedule workouts as you would any other important activity.

You can also slip in physical activity throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk up and down sidelines while watching the kids play sports. Take a walk during a break at work. Pedal a stationary bike or do strength training exercises while you watch TV at night.

Research has found that sitting for long periods of time may negatively affect your health, even if you otherwise get the recommended amount of weekly activity. If you sit for several hours a day at work, aim to take regular breaks during the day to move, such as walking to the water fountain to get a drink of water or standing during phone conversations.

Nov. 27, 2015 See more In-depth