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Replace the Old With the New

by Daniel on October 4th, 2012

Typically, those who have a hard time engaging in healthy, life-affirming behaviors such as exercise, also have behaviors that are unhealthy. For example, what are you doing with your free time when you are not exercising? Drinking too much? Watching too much TV? Eating too much? Sound familiar? If so, it is a good idea to use exercise to replace or limit many of those current poor health choices. This means that you are not just adding an exercise program, you are changing your life. If you apply your new life-affirming behavior like exercise to the rest of your life, and include other healthy changes as well, you will help reinforce all the changes, not just exercise. One reinforces the other.

Putting it All Together

Now that we have outlined the basic behavioral change methods that can be used to start and maintain an exercise program, let’s outline specific guidelines that will help you utilize the above techniques more effectively.

1) Once you have an idea what exercise or activity suites you best (from Be a Kid Again), schedule that activity in writing. This means you need to write it on the calendar, day planner, or whatever you use for your appointments. Remember, this is your new lifestyle. Just like you make time for brushing your teeth, you make time for exercise.

2) Try and tie as many techniques together as possible. So, if you like to be around people, join a gym or aerobics class. Working out alone will not work for you. This way you get the positive reinforcement from the social interaction and it becomes a punishment if you stop.

3) Make a commitment to a friend. Typically this involves telling as many people as you can that you are starting an exercise program, or that you exercise regularly. This makes you accountable to them and makes it harder to slack off. Many trainers and fitness gurus will recommend that you get an exercise partner to keep you accountable. However, the problem with this idea is that it is only as reliable as your partner. If you are relying on a partner, and they stop, you will eventually stop as well. So, only choose an exercise partner if you are certain that they are more motivated to workout than you. If you want a partner make sure to choose someone who has a long track record of consistent exercise behavior.

4) Since exercise is now your lifestyle, don’t set up barriers that prevent you from exercising. For example, “if it’s sunny I’ll go running,” or “if I get off from work early I’ll go to the gym.” Setting up these types of criteria that determine if you workout or not will eventually prevent you from achieving your goals, so don’t do it! Whatever your schedule is, that’s it! Rain or shine! Remember, it’s like brushing your teeth; you don’t determine if you are going to brush by the weather or getting off early from work, exercise is no different.

5) The only thing that needs to be consistent is exercise, not any specific activity. So, don’t let boredom with one form exercise or routine turn you off to all activities. If you have been running for a while and are feeling burnt out with it, start bicycling, swimming, etc. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever form of exercise you like, do it! Just make sure that the activity provides moderate intensity to achieve your fitness goals. So, gardening and bowling won’t do.

6) Start slow! If you have not been exercising regularly and don’t enjoy post workout pain, don’t do too much too soon. The pain will be a deterrent to your continued success. So, no matter what activity you are doing, weight lifting, jogging, etc., make sure to back off on the intensity. For aerobic activity that means to work at about 60 percent of your maximal heart rate for only 20 minutes. If you are strength training, start with only one set per exercise per muscle group at about 70 percent of your one rep maximum.

Remember, you can always increase the intensity of your workout later. If you are unsure how to start a new program it is well worth the money and time to have a few sessions with a personal trainer to get you going.

In this article we have outlined some behavioral changes methods that you can use to change from a sedentary slug to an active superman (or women). As with everything in life, it’s up to you. You know yourself better than anyone else. So, use the techniques that work for you and be honest about your actual exercise consistency. Remember, the benefits of exercise far outweigh any inconvenience or cost. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

From → Fitness

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