The process of adding exercise to your busy life can be difficult, but it can be done. Even lifelong exercisers had to start somewhere. The first step is realizing that you need to start, and then deciding you are ready to start.
After you commit to adding exercise into your life, you need to decide whether you need to join a gym. In a study of 235 men and women aged 35-65, researchers compared two types of two-year interventions to persuade people to become more active. During the first six months, one group was asked to work out at a gym at least three times a week for 20 or 30 minutes, working up to a traditional five-day-a-week workout goal. The nontraditional group attended weekly discussion sessions and learned how to overcome obstacles to exercise. This group could work out at a gym or on their own. Preliminary results from the study suggest that both groups improved their fitness, although the gym-based group had better results. Members of both groups had equal improvements in blood pressure and total cholesterol reduction, proving the nontraditional approach shows promise.
An organized program is often important for novices. A study of 128 women, published in the Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology found that organized exercise programs work best to treat overweight women. However, as soon as the participants were excused from the schedule, their exercise habits disintegrated.
Finding the motivation to exercise is different for every person. While one person may enjoy exercising with a spinning class, another may like being one with nature during a trail run in the woods.
Some people turn to the sports that they enjoy watching for inspiration. If you enjoy watching basketball, you may want to look for some pickup basketball games in your neighborhood. However, remember to inject some realism into your expectations. You won't be able compete at the same level as your favorite NBA player.
Once people become regular exercisers, they share certain characteristics, such as:
American Council on Exercise
American Heart Association
Public Health Agency of Canada
Canada Safety Council
Costas I, Priest DL. Music in the exercise domain: a review and synthesis (part II). Int Rev Sport Exerc Psychol. 2012;5(1):67-84.
Dunn AL, Marcus BH, et al. Comparison of lifestyle and structured interventions to increase physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness: a randomized trial. JAMA. 1999;281(4):327-34.
Wadden T, Vogt R, Andersen R, et al. Exercise in the treatment of obesity: Effects of four interventions on body composition, resting energy expenditure, appetite, and mood. J Consult Clin Psych. 1997;65(2):269-77.
Last reviewed January 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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