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Implementing an exercise routine is important for a healthy lifestyle


We all know exercise is good for us, but getting motivated can be a challenge for both youth and adults alike. Although finding the time and inspiration can sometimes be difficult, it's important to include an exercise routine as part of your lifestyle. There are many different activities you can get you started and finding what works for you will help you enjoy exercise.


Commit to change

Be willing to move in a new direction with your lifestyle and find ways to be more active. It may be helpful to identify a successful role model who has made changes to improve his or her health by increasing physical activity and eating sensibly. Having this person, may make your goals seem more realistic and manageable. Accept that change is all about making choices - like choosing to take a walk instead of watching TV. This doesn't mean you have to stop watching TV or make huge sacrifices, it just means to that it is important to find a balance between watching TV or doing other activities and being more active. Another simple way to be active is to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Put these simple steps into action to add more activity to your day.


Believe in change

A theme is to believe in yourself and your ability to change. It's easier to achieve a goal when you have a positive attitude. Make a list of successful changes you've made in the past and believe that you can make these new changes. Try not to get upset if you miss a couple of days of exercise - occasional lapses will not ruin your efforts. Give yourself some slack, don't get discouraged right away, and realize that missing a few days of exercise doesn't mean failure. Remain confident and keep a record of your activity on the calendar to help you stay on track. If you have friends who stay in shape with regular exercise, ask them for tips and suggestions that you could incorporate into your routine or even ask if you can exercise together.


Focus on small changes

When it comes to exercise, it's important to create a long-term plan that works for you. The goal is to make a lifetime commitment to staying active. Experiment and try various types of activities, so that you can discover the ones you really enjoy. Fun activities you could try include dancing, bowling, weight lifting, water aerobics, exercise classes or yoga. By choosing a variety of activities, you also have a backup plan if you need one or if you find out that you don't like something as much as you thought you would. For example, if you can't walk outside because of bad weather, use an exercise DVD instead. Try to make physical activity a part of your daily habits. Keep a pair of sneakers by your desk or the door as a reminder to walk, or place hand weights next to the TV to exercise while watching your favorite program. It's important to do activities that are fun and make you feel good about exercising. Keep your focus on your accomplishments and feeling healthy.


Find and be a cheerleader

It's easier to make changes when you have someone to cheer you on. Seek out a friend, co-worker or family member who will encourage you and keep you motivated. Help your children find that special cheerleader. Regular phone calls, e-mails or visits could provide the boost to keep you on target. Your cheerleader could even become your exercise buddy, which can make exercise more fun.


Reward yourself as you make simple changes that support your overall goal - celebration is part of successful change.  Too often people think they simply lack the willpower to change. Instead of being negative, try starting your plan with small, incremental changes that will improve your health over time. Another way to help keep yourself motivated maybe keeping a journal when you don't have time to exercise. By recording what you do every half hour for one day, you'll almost be guaranteed to find 30 minutes you could have spent exercising. Charlotte Hayes, a certified diabetic educator, encourages people to ease into exercise by making the most of daily activities. In her book, "The I Hate to Exercise Book for People with Diabetes", she mentions walking, cleaning, gardening, and stair climbing as daily activities that keep you moving.


Source: Missouri Families, University of Missouri Extension