How to Start an Exercise Habit You can Stick With
About 15 percent of American adults actually work out three or more times a week, according
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And more than half of the people who start
an exercise regimen end up quitting within just six months of when they started, usually during
the first three months. That high dropout rate is not especially surprising, considering that
people often approach exercise in ways that are guaranteed to make it a tedious, painful,
It doesn’t have to be like that. Whatever regimen you choose, whether based on an aerobic-
style activity such as walking, running, bicycling, cross-country skiing, or swimming; a
strength-training routine using weight machines, free weights, or stretching bands; or both
kinds of exercise, there are steps you can take to help you stay on track.
Build in the motivators in order to give yourself the best chance at long term success, try to
design the following features into your exercise program:
Find a partner. An exercise companion can make any workout more enjoyable. And
you’re probably less likely to skip a session, or quit entirely-when you know someone is
counting on you.
Get on schedule. Mark on a calendar exactly when you plan to exercise for at least two
weeks in advance. Schedule each session for the same time of day-right before your
morning shower, for example, or right after you get home from work. Then make a formal
commitment, perhaps in writing or to friends or family members that you’ll stick to that
Take lapses in stride. Despite that commitment, occasional lapses are nearly inevitable,
due to illness, travel, boredom, or bad weather. A few missed sessions won’t set you back
– unless they discourage you from continuing.
Record your progress. Each time you work out, record the details on your calendar – for
example, how long you exercised, how hard you pushed, how much distance you
covered, or how many repetitions of a strength-training exercise you did and whether
you increased the resistance since your last session.
Give yourself a boost. Periodically review your calendar record to see how much you’ve
stuck with the schedule, reward yourself by, say, going out to a fancy restaurant or
buying something special.
Change your routine. After a month or two, or anytime that you start feeling bored, look
for new places to work out, such as a park, a stretch of woods, an indoor mall, or a local
health club. Better yet, you can start adding new exercises to your usual routine.
Gym memberships at Huggins Back Bay Rehabilitation are available to the public for a
nominal fee. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact Huggins Back
Bay Rehabilitation at 569-7565.