10 proven tips to help you start or maintain a fitness program

By Nathalie Lambert

Spécialiste de la mise en forme et médaillée olympique en patinage de vitesse. Directrice des programmes sportifs et communications pour le Club Sportif MAA.
  1. The expression, “A Little Goes a Long Way” is quite apt in starting or developing a fitness program. If you are a beginner, start an exercise plan slowly with 1 or 2 training sessions a week, or 15-20 minutes a few times a week.  Rushing in with 4 big weekly workouts would result in muscle soreness and possible injury, as well as requiring a big commitment of your time. Once the habit has been formed it will be easier to add on. Always aim for the long term.
  2. Setting clear, realistic and consistent goals are the key to success. Measure your efforts and progress. Set frequent deadlines for your goals. These can take many forms: They can target a number of minutes, a number of repetitions, a certain speed or trying a new way to exercise each month.  Whatever the challenge, it has to be both attainable and motivating.
  3. Good things come in pairs!  The simple fact of working out with someone, quadruples the chance of doing a workout session. Whether it is a class with an instructor waiting for you, a personal training session with a trainer, or a rendezvous for a walk with a friend. This makes us accountable. And you know what, it also works in virtual mode!
  4. Genuinely enjoying how you exercise is a priority. Choosing what you want to do should be based on the pleasure you get out of it and not the effectiveness of the workout.  It is better to have long term gains from practicing a less “effective” activity on a regular basis.  If you force yourself to undergo one that is, you could possibly drop some sessions along the way due to a lack of interest.
  5. Long live DATA! Apple understood this a long time ago. We like to measure our efforts and see our progress. We like to succeed. We all heard of people doing jumping jacks in the kitchen at night just so they can close their rings and hit their daily goals on their Apple Watch. There are many excellent types of tools like this and different apps, that range from free to inexpensive, to help motivate you and achieve your fitness goals. 
  6. Music to the rescue! A study from the late 1990s found that the perception of the duration of physical exertion is reduced while listening to music. To prove it, three groups were used to estimate the duration of their run on a treadmill by pressing a stopwatch when they thought they had reached 30 minutes of exercise. The participants in group one had no music and stopped their stopwatches on average after about 23 minutes.  Those in group two who listened to elevator-style music stopped at around 27 minutes.  Group three, whose participants created a compilation of their favorite songs, went over 31 minutes before they stopped. This says a lot about the inspiring power of music. Take the time to create lists for your sessions and you will see the time fly by!
  7. Prioritize your proximity for physical activities that take place outside the home. If your sports club is located far away, there is a good chance that over time the distance will become an incentive to quit. So, choose a location that is closer to your workplace or home.
  8. Do not leave the decision of when to exercise up to chance. Set a pattern of booking your workouts in your calendar and regard them as essential appointments that you cannot miss.
  9. Be adventurous and try new things! Explore the wide variety of sports, activities and classes that are out there.  Find the one you like so much that you will become addicted.
  10. If you slip up, do not give up! The approach to healthy life habits is not “all or nothing”. Every day that you are active, you invest in your health capital. Every day you are not, you make a withdrawal. The important aspect of this is to always keep investing, and especially to not give up because you have not been exercising for a few days.

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