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While personal training is the best way to make sure your exercise program is effective and efficient, you don’t have to hire a personal trainer in order to work out!

(Shameless aside: You should totally hire a personal trainer to help you with exercise and nutrition. If you’re in Nashville, Basics and Beyond fitness & nutrition is kind of a no-brainer…)

If you don’t have a personal training appointment, you should still schedule your exercise as you would any other important activity. It’s hard enough to find time to exercise, let alone to keep your promise to do it!

In one landmark study, researchers put participants who were planning to start exercising into three groups: One got no information, the second received materials about the health benefits of exercise, and the third filled out a form indicating the single day/time/place (of their choosing) they pledged to exercise vigorously for at least 20 minutes. Two weeks later, the researchers were surprised at the results. An astonishing 91 percent of the third group had followed through, compared with less than 40 percent of the other two groups.

So get your exercise times in your schedule book!

ways to exercise schedule

Ways to exercise

If you have a workout program that you do in a gym (or if you have a home gym setup), fantastic. A solid strength training routine (working out with weights) is the most effective and efficient way to get consistent results from your exercise time and effort.

But there are other ways to exercise too!

If you work from home, stretch, walk, or climb your stairs on breaks. Or do squats, lunges or ab crunches. Walk your dog if you have one. Pedal a stationary bike, get on the treadmill, or some simple calisthenics exercises during your lunch break or while you watch TV at night.

You can also slip in extra physical activity throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park further away from the store. Walk up and down sidelines while watching the kids play sports. Take a walk during a break at work. Stand up and pace while you’re on the phone or on a less-than-engaging zoom call.

Research has found that sitting for long periods of time may negatively affect your health, even if you otherwise get the recommended amount of weekly activity, so get up an move as often as you can!

Here are some ways to stay more consistent with exercise

1. Stop making exercise about how you look

Of course you’d like to lose 20 pounds or firm up those abs. But people who have a ACTION goal (such as a target number of exercise sessions a week) are significantly more likely to stick to their workouts than those who focus on an OUTCOME goal (like losing 20 pounds). So instead of, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds,” a better goal is, “I’m going to exercise on Mondays and Thursdays at 9 a.m.”

2. Focus on exercise you enjoy

Exercise doesn’t have to mean sweating in the gym or endless treadmill time. How about hiking a local greenway, taking a dance class or volunteering to walk dogs at the local animal shelter?

Sometimes we can make up a story that exercise is a lot of unpleasant work. We forget that taking a walk in a beautiful area with a friend is exercise. If you choose an activity you genuinely like, research shows you’re much more inclined to stick with it over time.

Just because strength training with a personal trainer is the most effective all-around exercise program, you could also try:

  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Water exercise in the pool
  • Martial arts
  • Group exercise classes
  • Jogging
  • Recreational sports like tennis, basketball, or volleyball

3. Have an Exercise Plan B

Expect setbacks, no one is ever able to keep 100% commitment to your workouts. But instead of letting that kill your motivation, make a contingency plan. Maybe it’s, “If I don’t get to the gym in the morning, I will take a walk after dinner,” or “If I can’t walk because it’s raining, I will do 10 minutes of physical activity inside.”

You can also use an “if-then” statement to tie a nonphysical activity you enjoy (such as listening to an audiobook) to a physical activity commitment: “If I want to listen to the book, then I have to walk while I do it.”

ways to exercise - plan B

Watch out for All-Or-Nothing thinking!

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably fallen victim to this type of thinking:

“I promised myself I wouldn’t eat any junk food, but I ate a cookie so I might as well eat the rest of these cookies. I’ll start my diet all over again tomorrow.”

“I want to quit smoking, but I caved and had a cigarette. Maybe I’ll try to quit some other time.”

“I don’t have time to go to the gym every day, so I can’t start an exercise program right now.”

This kind of all-or-nothing thinking will destroy your health and kill your motivation to lose weight, get in shape, or become healthier. The all-or-nothing mentality basically says that if you can’t be perfect, then you might as well not make ANY improvements or smart decisions.

WRONG! (and hurtful)

Let’s examine the folly of the all-or-nothing thinking. Taking the cookie example:

You’re trying to lose weight, so you intend to stay away from junk food. You eat a cookie. The all-or-nothing thinking tells you, “Well, I didn’t stay away from junk food, so I have failed. Therefore, nothing I do for the rest of the day matters, so I might as well pile on more foolish decisions for the rest of the day, and then try to get back on track tomorrow.”

Can you see how hurtful this line of thinking is? OF COURSE what you do for the rest of the day matters. You made a bad choice, so what? Get the next choice right. Hell, get the next 12 choices right. Don’t sabotage yourself by abdicating sensibility for the rest of the day if you do one thing that you regret.

Behavior is cumulative – every decision goes into the “results” pot, so make a good one next time.

ways to exercise

Get some help and exercise accountability

Accountability really helps behavior! If you’re not yet hooked up with your dream coach, just drop us a note and we’ll set a time to talk about options to help you with exercise, nutrition, stress eating, or anything else you need. We’re here for you in Nashville (5 training locations) or online!