Exercise Adherence

Your decisions been made, you’re pumped to get started, this time you’re really going to shape up for good!

But did you know that more than half of those who begin an exercise program drop out within the first 6 months?  That’s a staggering statistic, especially when you consider that these same people will eventually start and stop again and again.  But once people realize the reasons they stop exercising, they can implement new behaviors to make exercise a way of life.

There are a variety of reasons people drop out of exercise.  They run out of time, workouts are no fun, or they’ve tried to do too much too soon and are dissappointed in the lack of results.  Someone who stops exercising for any of these reasons, and then starts again without alleviating the initial problem, is very likely to continue to drop out.  Luckily, there are techniques that you can adopt to increase your adherence to an exercise program.

How can you avoid being an exercise drop-out?  First, you should choose an activity that you really enjoy.  Don’t force yourself to take up body building, for instance, if you really can’t stand the weight room.  Enjoyment itself is a powerful motivator.

Second, choose an exercise program that fits your schedule and meshes with your lifestyle.  When you choose an exercise class, for example, find one that fits your time schedule and is in a location that is near your home or workplace.

Next, choose the class that’s right for you.  The type of class, step, low impact, dance or circuit, should fit your exercise capabilities.  If the class is too difficult or too easy, you’ll be more inclined to drop out quickly.  If you’re new to a class, be sure to let the Instructor know.  He or she can tell you what to expect, what level the class is working at, and show modifications if you’re just getting started.

Once you select the facility, time and class you want, make sure your Instructor is motivating to you.  They should be knowledgeable and enjoy teaching.  You should feel that the instructor is concerned with providing you with the best workout possible.  You should also enjoy the environment you’re in and the other members around you.  A huge reason people do group fitness is because it’s social, fun and motivating to be in a group of like-minded individuals that not only enjoy each others company, but enjoy the element of fun and comraderie.

There are several other techniques to help you keep exercising.  Schedule your workouts so a friend can accompany you to class.  Make sure you have the support of your “significant other” so they can reinforce your efforts.  Choose a class where other participants share your exercise capabilities and workout goals.  Pack your clothes the night before and leave them in front of the door.  This way, you must pick them up to leave.

Probably the best way to guarantee that you don’t become a dropout is to set goals for yourself.  I know, I preach this one often.  But you have to make sure your goals are reasonable, achievable, measurable, personal and set within a respectable time frame.  For example, you may want to progress from an intermediate class to an advanced class in 3 months.  This would mean attending 3 or 4 classes a week to build your fitness level.  They key in goal setting is to make certain that you experience success along the way.  Rememeber…Success breeds success.

Another method for improving your adherence to exercise involves relaxation and imagery training.  When you are relaxed, imagine yourself fitter, thinner, stronger or more toned, feeling better and thinking more positively.  All these images will condition your mind to help you exercise over longer periods of time.  Like I always tell my class participants, “you gotta want it!!”  That is why you take the time to show up in a class.  No one takes time out of their day to show up and slack through an hour of exercise.  Remember, you showed up because you want results.  And the only way results are made, is with determination and attitude.

There are many “tricks of the trade” to help you stick to your exercise program.  The key is to really enjoy what you are doing.  When people are having fun together, they will persist in doing it longer.  I realize that I do a lot of preaching about persistence, but it is only because I really want you to succeed.  I want your goals to be met, and I want you to feel good about the person you are.  You need to know that it isn’t all about the way you look on the outside, but exercise can dramatically help the way you feel on the inside.  The first results you get  are not going to be on the scale.  But they will be in the way you go about the rest of your day, or the release of stress you feel after a day at the office.  Exercise is the magic pill that can turn a frown into a smile – and give you the energy to be a better co-worker, parent or friend.  It is a gift you have to give yourself – and it takes a long-term commitment.  So what are you waiting for?  Get out there – and get moving!