Written on March 29, 2012 by Sebastian Cimitiere
Debbe Geiger admits it: Her motivation to exercise was zero and had been for years. She could summarize her feelings about exercise in two words. “It stinks,” says Geiger, of Cary, N.C.
Her thinking changed when she finally found her exercise motivation: commitment to a team.
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Late work nights, missed workouts, party chatter, loneliness all make the holidays a stressful time. But no need to dread the holiday season! We’ve got simple tips to help gladden that holiday heart. First rule: Don’t dive into the Godiva. While it may taste great, exercise is the best de-stressor there is. Exercise boosts your sense of well-being, self-esteem, and body image, says Jesse Pittsley, PhD, a spokesperson for the American Society of Exercise Physiologists. When we experience mental…
Geiger joined a volleyball team — after much urging from friends who wanted her to play with them — and now she doesn’t want to let her teammates down. She’s at the gym with a convert’s fervor on game nights.
“There have been lots of reasons I could have missed, and I haven’t,” Geiger says proudly.
Geiger’s experience illustrates what exercise experts have learned through research and practice over the years: To succeed in sticking to an exercise routine, people need a reason to carry on when that little voice inside says, “Sit on the couch. Have a doughnut.”
There are plenty of reasons we should be exercising. Not only does exercise help us reach and maintain a healthy body weight, it also can help lower blood pressure, “bad” cholesterol and trigycerides; strengthen bones; lower the risk for cancer; help us battle depression; and decrease stress. Many experts say it even improves our sex lives.
So we all know exercise is good for us. Why do so many of us hate it?
“We may have had a bad experience in school, or maybe we’re afraid we’ll hurt ourselves,” says Carla Sottovia, assistant director of fitness at the highly esteemed Cooper Fitness Institute in Dallas. “Maybe they’re even afraid to sweat.”
Intimidation is a factor also, experts say. When you’re out of shape, it takes courage to don workout duds and head for the gym.
If any of this sounds familiar, don’t give up hope. Experts who spoke to WebMD, as well as fitness buffs who say they once hated to work out, offered some tips to help even exercise-haters learn to love it.
One of the biggest reasons for failure is that first-time exercisers often set unrealistic goals.
“They want to go for maximal goals, but they tend to get overwhelmed,” says Gerald Endress, fitness director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C.
Don’t start off trying to work out an hour every day. Instead, begin with 20-30 minutes of your chosen exercise two to three times a week.
Don’t forget to chart your progress, whether it’s with a high-tech online tracker or an old-fashioned fitness journal. Seeing incremental improvements, whether it’s in improved time, increased reps, or greater frequency of workouts, can boost your exercise motivation.
“I need to see the value,” says Jay Aronson, a professor of management information systems at the University of Georgia who cycles every day for at least an hour. For his part, Aronson has seen the value of exercise — he lost 75 pounds over two years.
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