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How To Start & Maintain a Regular Exercise Program

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Updated December 08, 2006

How To Start & Maintain a Regular Exercise Program
Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, and polls have shown that the majority of people have a genuine desire to exercise on a reguar basis. Having high blood pressure means taking extra steps to care for your body and overall health, and these simple tips will make it easier to build a regular exercise program that fits into your schedule and life
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 20 Minutes, 3-5x per Week

Here's How:

  1. Set aside a small block of time on a regular basis (3-5x per week)

  2. Make a list of activities that you already enjoy doing. Many activities actually quietly contribute a great deal to your overall exercise amount.

  3. Write down 3-5 activities that you are not doing on a regular basis, but which seem more like a fun or productive activity than like work. Anything that gets you moving around for at least 20 minutes will work. Some examples

    • Window Shopping
    • Gardening
    • Washing your Car

  4. Consider what "traditional" exercise activites you are willing to try. While running, swimming, and lifting weights don't have to be part of the equation, all of these activities have more simple counterparts that are also beneficial.

    For example

    • Running = Walking with your spouse after dinner
    • Swimming = A game of bowling or golf each week
    • Lifting Weights = Working around the house or helping a neighbor

  5. Set realistic goals, and commit to sticking with them. If you only have 20 minutes free in the early morning, then setting a goal to jog for half an hour every night is not realistic. Realistic goals set you up to succeed, and are an important part of any new undertaking.

    In general, you should aim for trying to have 20 minutes of time 3-5 days per week, but if you have more, then use it.

  6. Review the activity lists you've made and choose two weeks of activities that will add up to at least 6 20 minute blocks. If you know that you'll be going to a flea market for a few hours this weekend, or are already scheduled to play a round of golf, that's fine, count this time on your list.

  7. For the next two weeks, keep track of how much time you're spending doing the activities you chose. You might be surprised at the results

  8. At the end of the two weeks, plan another two week blockof activities. Try to incorporate at least one new activity that you'd like to try

  9. Continue this process until you've developed a good balance of activities you enjoy. By this point you're already getting a good amount of exercise, and the process is fairly automatic and worked into your day. The important idea now is to keep things interesting and varied. Keep trying new things and discontinue activities you are bored with or don't enjoy.

Tips:

  1. Exercise does not have to mean hard, sweaty, exertion for an hour at a time, every day of the week. Studies have shown that exercise is a cumulative concept - so that flight of stairs or that three block walk to the store really do make a difference.

  2. Exercising does not have to cost a lot - or even anything. You don't need fancy equipment, memberships, or special food. You just need to get out and move those muscles.

  3. The single most important factor for success is keeping yourself interested. If that means you want to join a class at your local YMCA, that's fine. If it means that you walk through new parts of your town, that's fine, too.

  4. Before beginning any exercise program, it is important to review your plans with your doctor. You'll want to make sure that you're not starting off with too much or doing something that may be harmful. In general, your doctor will be happy to see you taking an acive role, but it's always good to check.

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Pen or Pencil
  • About 1 hour for planning
  • A positive attitude

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