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We all know that regular exercise is a crucial element of a healthy, balanced life. It helps us feel better, improves physical and mental health, and reduces the risk of many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. We also all know that it is far too easy to hit that snooze button, grab the remote instead of our sneakers, and put off a workout until tomorrow…or the next day. Here are a few simple ways to stay motivated and stick to that exercise routine:

1. Keep it fun.

Does your current workout make you miserable? Don’t do it! You need a mix of exercises that include strength training, cardio, and stretching, but there are almost limitless ways to accomplish this. Try a variety of activities until you find one, or better yet, a few that you find enjoyable. Ideas to try: yoga classes, lifting weights, running on a treadmill or outside, other cardio equipment, an at home strength circuit, dance fitness class, skiing, kick boxing, team sport such as basketball, soccer, volley ball, or baseball, horse back riding, hiking, ice skating, rock climbing, kayaking…the list goes on and on! The benefit of finding a few exercise options that are fun for you is that you can adjust as needed to your schedule or even the time of year. For example, a run in the local park might be wonderful on a beautiful spring day, but less enticing when there are two inches of snow on the ground.

2. Make a commitment.

Get your workouts on your schedule, and someone else’s. Book sessions with a personal trainer in advance. Arrange to meet a friend at a yoga or group exercise class. Promise your pup that you’ll take him or her on daily walks. When someone else is counting on you it’s a lot tougher to bail.

3. Budget for healthy living.

Don’t let the cost of exercise stand in the way of making it happen. Whether it’s running shoes, sports equipment, classes, training sessions, or a gym membership there is often some cost involved. Look at the other things you spend money on without a second thought – maybe it’s your cell phone, cable subscription, new clothes, or expensive gifts for people who have everything. Give exercise a line item in your budget and show that your health and well being are a priority in your life.

4. Know that it will get easier.

Over time a regular exercise schedule becomes second nature, and no longer something you need to “squeeze in” or make time for. It might be hard at first but there are huge benefits to sticking with it, and eventually exercise is a habit and fully integrated into your life. Learn more about this here: The Model of Change

5. Track your progress.

What are your exercise goals? To shorten your 5K time? To be able to do the scorpion yoga pose? To walk up the stairs without getting winded? To lower your cholesterol or blood pressure? To run a marathon or climb a mountain? Whatever you hope to accomplish, lay out a specific training plan to get there, and keep track of your progress along the way. Once you achieve your goal take time to enjoy it and feel proud of your hard work. Then set the next goal!

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