How to Make Exercise a Habit

You know you should be getting some exercise. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG), issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, says that American adults should get at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity. You need to do this type of activity for at least 10 minutes at a time as intervals shorter than this do not have the same health benefits. Adults should also do strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least two days a week.

If exercise is something new to you, it may seem difficult to make a walk or a trip to the gym part of your daily routine. Here are some tips for making exercise a habit:

Set a realistic goal for yourself. If you’re just getting into the swing of things, take small steps. Think about jogging around the block without getting winded before you set your mind on running a marathon. Curl some dumbbells before trying Olympic weight lifts.

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Choose an exercise routine you like. Studies show that most people don’t like their regular exercise routine, which may explain why so few people stick with their plans and actually meet he PAG goals. If the thought of running fills you with dread, take a dance class. Scared of putting your face in the water? Ride an exercise bike instead of swimming. If your routine gives you pleasure, you’re more likely to stick with it.

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Make it an early part of the day. If you make your daily exercise routine a part of your schedule—actually writing it into your calendar, you’re more likely to stick with it. And if you exercise in the morning, before life has an opportunity to throw curves into your day, you can be sure to get your session in.

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