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Maintaining an Exercise Regimen

By Lawrence Feinstein, PhD

Make exercise a part of your daily routine:

  1. Monitoring - keep a log of your activities where you can see it

  2. Vary your activity so it doesn't become boring:  find three alternate activities and alternate among them, or alternate how you do the same activity (e.g., choose different routes to walk)

  3. Create flexibility by creating contingency plans:

  a)  if you cannot do one activity, plan today what other activity you can do

  b)  if you cannot exercise at your planned time, plan a backup time

Long-Term Motivation; Creating Reward Systems:

  1. Choose non-food rewards (e.g., flowers, a book or CD, say nice things to yourself) to give to yourself soon (within 8 hours) after you exercise (don't wait until the end of the week); this extrinsic reward system may become boring within a few weeks

  2. Share your successes with others who value exercise and/or will compliment you

  3. Develop intrinsic reward by making the activity itself enjoyable or valuable

a)  listen to music on a walkman

b)  look around at the scenery

c)  walk with a partner and talk

d)  realize your improvement, increased endurance

e)  take time away from stressors

f)  take time to take care of yourself, indulge yourself

g)  realize your increasing sense of control

Long-Term Coping:

  1. Ask others what activities they do for enjoyable exercise

  2. Ask others how they cope with boredom or problems related to their activities

  3. Exercise with a buddy... or alone... whichever you prefer

  4. Get the proper exercise equipment (e.g., walking shoes, shorts, sweats)c

  5. Increase the amount of time and effort of your activity slowly and gradually, and use a schedule; for example, increase walking 2 minutes per week)

  6. If your activity hurts, slow down, breath, perhaps stop and rest; continue only if you are able to without pain

  7. Talk to yourself before, during, and after exercising

a)   remind yourself that exercising is part of taking care of yourself and being responsible
for your own health care

b)   remind yourself of why you are exercising (e.g., health, vitality, self-care, calorie
balancing and weight control)

c)   focus away from the difficulty or pain, e.g., on breathing, your goal, or a far-away place,
someone else's body

d)   see exercise as a challenge, not a difficulty

e)   listen to yourself; recognize excuses (e.g., tired) and dismiss them

Consistency is the key

  1. The greatest single factor leading to not exercising is ... not exercising. 

  2. Not exercising one day will increase the likelihood that you will not exercise the next day.  Recognize this and deal with it. 

  3. Not exercising may have been your habit pattern up until now; exercising regularly can become a new pattern if you are patient, caring, and gentle with yourself.  Are you?

Ways to sabotage yourself:

  1. Don't exercise if it's raining outside; stay in and watch TV

  2. Don't exercise if it's sunny outside; sit outside in the sun

  3. Don't exercise when you're busy, you haven't got the time

  4. Don't exercise when you have free time, you should spend it relaxing because you are usually so busy

  5. Think to yourself that you probably can't exercise enough to burn enough calories anyway, and you will never get to the point where you can shape your body, and you haven't seen any real results in the last 2 weeks, so you might as well not even try

  6. When stressed, eat, it's easier and more enjoyable

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