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Starting To Exercise: 7 Tips For Maximum Success

By: Tod Syversen

Being a big fan of lists (who isn't?) let's run through 7 tips to put your new exercise routine on the fast track to success.

1. The obligatory "consult your doctor first." This one is particularly for if you're not normally physically active. Confirm you're physically up to it before you begin a new exercise program. Make sure you don't have anything serious that needs to be addressed.

Find a doctor that is familiar with exercise and physical fitness. This is important because one doctor told me that women should never lift weights, they should stick to aerobics. Doctors generally do not get any formal training in physical fitness or nutrition, find one who did and you are better off. Take home lesson: don't be afraid to question your doctor about exercise. Lecture over, let's get to the fun stuff.

2. Set small goals. While it may be really exciting to set a large goal like running a marathon or going to the gym every day, the motivation fades fast if you don't have smaller goals for positive feedback. Without the feedback of accomplishing smaller victories it gets difficult to motivate yourself to achieve the grander goal. Don't risk a blind-date with feeling overwhelmed.

The key is to break the larger goal into smaller steps like running 1 mile a day, then 2 miles until you are ready for the marathon. You will find yourself going from the couch to the Boston Marathon sooner than you think.

3. Reward yourself. Achieving your goals is supposed to be fun. When you reach a goal, whether it is a little one or a big one, reward yourself. Rewards keep you going. Pick a reward and don't give up until you've earned it. It will make the reward much more satisfying and keep you in the game.

4. Do something fun. Exercising doesn't have to be running around a track until you can't breathe anymore. Take up a sport you enjoy and your goals become part of the fun. Keeping things fun will avoid a blind-date with overwhelmed's ugly cousin: burnout. If you think that sitting on an Abdominizer for hours on end in front of your television is fun you don't need tips, you need an intervention.

5. Mix it up. It's easy to get into a rut when you're beginning a new workout routine. In order to keep things interesting and maintain your motivation, change up the exercises or sports you do. This is to make things easier on the body as well the mind. For example, if you're running two or three times a week, consider riding your bike on the other days. Weight lifting? Add mobility drills to keep your muscles strong and flexible.

6. Exercise with friends. Friends motivate you to get to the gym, friends make it fun, and friends can challenge you to push yourself just a little bit farther than you might if you were working out alone. Nothing is more powerful than a friendly "she is NOT going to do more push ups than me!" Just remember that this is not social time and if you can easily talk while you exercise you aren't working hard enough to get fit.

7. Exercise during your best time of day. Are you a morning person? I'd wager that the morning is when you will get your best workouts. If you're a night person, then try working out in the evening. You will need to experiment with this until you find your sweet spot.

Like any good list you have to draw the line somewhere and end it. There are many more that could have made this list but information overload won't help you get started. Start with these tips and once you make them part of your regular routine you can worrying about finer details.

Congratulations on your decision to get into shape. Your body is designed for movement and exercise is vital to your health. Now go get moving!

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