25 Ways To Make Exercise Routine

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  • We know we should, we say we want to, but still--we just can't find the time or the motivation or discipline. Whatever. Writer Leo Babauta has gone from an overweight, out of shape smoker to a marathon running health advocate. Here are his 25 tips for making exercise a habit.

    Start Slow

    The biggest mistake that people make when starting an exercise plan is starting too fast or too hard. Take it easy, start as small as possible, and worry about endurance or intensity later. The key in the beginning is to make it enjoyable.
  • Warm Up If you're going to do any kind of exercise, don't do it with your muscles cold. Gradually get your heart pumping and blood flowing. You're less likely to injure yourself, and your workout will be more enjoyable
  • Increase Gradually After getting used to a certain level of exercise, you'll want to increase it. Don't just run two miles or walk 20 minutes three times a week for a year. Your body adjusts to the stress you're giving it, so you need to increase the level once you've adjusted. But do it gradually, and only every two weeks or so.
  • Schedule Workouts Make appointments with yourself to workout, at a specific time and place, just as you would with any other appointment.
  • Make It A Habit If you can do exercise at the same time, every single day for a month, you are more likely to make it a habit. Consistency makes habits more ingrained. Once it's a habit (and start easy in the beginning!), then you can step up the intensity a bit.
  • Forget About Weight Loss Many of us would like to lose some weight. But if you're motivated solely by weight loss, exercise will be a tough proposition. The reason is that you might not lose weight right away. Oh, it'll come, if you can keep it up over time, but in the beginning you might be disappointed (especially if you haven't changed your eating habits). Just get into the habit of exercise, and worry about the weight later. First things first.
  • Forget The Gym The gym can be convenient, but it can also be intimidating for beginners, and confusing if you don't know how to use the equipment. If the cost or the confusion stops you from exercising ... well, skip the gym and do it at home or at the park. You can do pushups and crunches and dumb bell exercises at home very easily, work out to a DVD, or go walking or jogging in your neighborhood. Keep it cheap and simple.
  • Reward Yourself Self-explanatory, but rewards are best if they are frequent in the beginning. Treat yourself!
  • Do A 30-Day Challenge Challenge yourself, and see if you can rise to the occasion. Do it with a group or your significant other. Put in rewards. Tell everyone you're doing it.
  • Write About It On your Facebook page, in your blog, on Twitter, in emails or in your journal. There's nothing more motivating than positive public pressure. Step it up by making a promise to your readers that you will commit to this goal for a month, and post your results every day.
  • Set Goals What are you trying to get out of your exercise? It's good to know if you're trying to build muscle or burn fat - because these are two competing goals. There are other goals, of course, but you should be clear what they are. Also, set goals for each week - what do you want to accomplish this week? Write it down, post it up, and see if you can meet them!
  • Make It Fun! Exercise doesn't have to be a chore. A morning walk or run, with the sun coming up, is a treat. njoy yourself and you'll actually look forward to your workouts.
  • Fuel Up If your workout is more than 30 minutes, you really should have some energy in you. You shouldn't work out on an empty stomach - but you also shouldn't eat right before you work out. Eat a banana or some peanut butter toast or a CliffBar an hour or two before your workout, and you're good to go.
  • Hydrate Water is best. Use a sports drink during your workout (and after) only if you're going to go an hour or more. If you're going to do a tough workout, stay hydrated throughout the day. In fact, do this whether you work out or not.
  • Exercise Early If you work out early (say, between 5:30 and 6 a.m.) you won't have to try to fit it in later in the day.
  • Get A Workout Buddy Find someone at your level, and commit to working out a certain number of times a week together, at a certain time. This will make you more likely to keep that workout appointment, and workouts can be a lot of fun if you spend them talking with your buddy. Be sure to actually work out, and not just chat.
  • Change It Up Walking or running every day can be a lot of fun. But getting some swimming or biking or strength workouts or aerobics or kickboxing into the mix can be a lot of fun, and can also help you get into better shape. They work out different muscles, and step up the metabolism.
  • Do A Little, Often You don't need to work out long, and you certainly don't need to be a weekend warrior. Just 20-30 minutes every day. Who doesn't have 20 minutes to spare on their schedule?
  • Just Lace Up Yes, you're dreading the upcoming workout. But don't even think about it. Just lace up and head out the door. You've already done the hardest part!
  • Follow The 10 Percent Rule Don't increase your workout time or distance by more than 10 percent a week. Stick with this to prevent burnout or injury.
  • Go Hard, Then Easy If you do a hard workout today, rest or go easy tomorrow. Don't do two hard workouts in a row. The hard-easy approach can also work within a workout itself - run hard, then run slow, then run hard. This allows you to burn more fat than if you just run medium the whole time.
  • Strength Is Good If you're a walker or runner or cyclist or swimmer or something like that, you should also fit some strength training into your schedule. Nothing too intense, but just some core-strengthening exercises that will help your main sport as well as make you healthier.
  • Don't Forget To Rest This is a commonly overlooked factor. If you don't give your body some rest, you will burn out and get injured. Rest is just as important as the workouts in improving performance and fitness.
  • Listen To Your Body If you feel like you're overdoing it, you probably are. Rest and allow your body to recover. And though you can run through some slight soreness or aches, you should stop as soon as you feel sharp pain or pain in the joints. You'll just make it worse.
  • No Pain...No Problem Forget the old rule of "no pain, no gain." You don't need pain to get in shape. Just take it easy, progress gradually, and enjoy yourself.

    What Is Your Exercise Routine? What Works for You?
We know we should, we say we want to but still--we just can't find the time or the motivation or discipline. Whatever. Writer Leo Babauta has gone from an overweight, out of shape smoker to a marathon running health advocate. Here are his 25 tips for making exercise a habit.