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How To Get Motivated to Exercise

It can be hard to exercise. Here are 5 tips to help you get off the couch and get fit.

2. Set Realistic Goals to Get Fit

CDC guidelines call for adults to do 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. That's a 30-minute walk 5 days a week. If you kick it up a notch -- jogging or running, for example - the benefits multiply. Though it's fine to provide for a gentle start, ultimately the more the better.

You can aim for these exercise guidelines, but don't try to meet them at the start. "People lose their motivation to exercise when they try to do too much too soon," says Hanson.

So instead of walking for 30 minutes a day right off the bat, start out doing 15 minutes a day, 2 or 3 days a week.

Set weekly goals, gradually adding more time and intensity. At the end of each week, take a look at how you did. If you reached your goal, celebrate! "And if you didn't reach your goal," Hanson says, "think about what went wrong and how you're going to respond differently next time."

3. Stop Thinking of It as Exercise -- Do Something You Enjoy

You don't have to go to the gym to get a good workout. It's all about moving more -- however you do it. For some people, going to the gym provides structure that helps them focus and a sense of accomplishment when they're done. For others, it's a chore -- one they wind up avoiding as often as they can.

What else can you do? Almost anything that gets you -- and your family -- moving:

  • Walk the dog, or walk a neighbor's dog. They'll be grateful for the help!
  • Have dance contests with the kids instead of watching TV.
  • Go to the park and play hide-and-seek.
  • Shoot hoops with the kids.
  • Walk or bike to the store instead of driving.
  • Get off the train a stop early and walk the rest of the way to your office.
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator.

If you think about it, you're surrounded by opportunities to get more active. Find the ones that you get excited about. You're more likely to keep doing them if you're having fun.

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