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by Erin Weaver

Everyone wants to be healthy but plenty of us fail at turning these ambitions into reality. With a busy life that includes friends, family, farm work, social commitments, and everything else, exercise can easily drift to the bottom of your list of priorities. In reality, getting into a regular exercise routine is a two-step process. You’ve got to plan ahead to create a routine that will work for you, and then you actually have to stick to it. So how do you actually do it?

Figure Out What You Like

Think about forms of exercise you’ve enjoyed in the past, or pinpoint all the ones that you hate. Look for recommendations from friends and try to find a few exercise options that suit you. Do you want to be in a gym, outdoors, or at home? Should it be equipment-heavy or super cheap?

Be Realistic

If you’ve never managed to stick with a workout routine before, don’t tell yourself that you’ll work out six days a week. Equally, if your nearest gym is a forty-minute drive away, will you ever go? Be realistic with yourself about the type, time, and frequency of routine that you can keep up with.

Make Time

If you’ve got a 5 a.m. wake-up call, don’t tell yourself that you’ll work out in the morning. Look at your daily and weekly schedule and figure out when you can make time. Maybe you could commit to a Tuesday evening workout, or make half an hour over lunch every weekday. You need to carve out real time on a regular basis to devote to exercise.

Take Baby Steps

If you’re currently unfit or you’re trying something new, start small and make a plan to build up. Talk to a trainer or an experienced friend if you can, and find out a level of progress that’s realistic for your current fitness level and the time you can commit. If it’s a struggle to run half a mile right now, don’t try to run ten miles every day. Figure out how you can build up to a mile, and then three, and then five, and so on.

Hold Yourself Accountable

Once you’ve begun, you need to hold yourself accountable so you keep going. Ask a friend or your partner to keep on top of you about your workouts. Make a spreadsheet to track your exercise progress. Use apps or alarms to remind you when it’s workout time. Give yourself strong reminders that make it hard for you to get lazy – this is what will keep you going even when you really don’t want to get off the couch.

The hardest part of establishing an exercise routine is beginning. There are a thousand mental blocks that can stand in your way, but you’ll overcome them most easily with a good plan in place. Follow these steps to get yourself going and pushing forward with a routine that really works for you.

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