The odds are better that 2017 will be a good year if you kick your new year off right with a healthy, sustainable workout routine.
Of course, that’s easy to say in January. Every trainer knows that this is the busy season—everyone has resolutions and a brand new slate to get them started. But come August, many of the most resolute have dropped their workout routines and gone straight back to the couch.
If fitness or health is in your 2017 purview, then you need to build a sustainable workout program—one that can survive the ups and downs of the daily grind. In fact, with a little planning now, you can build a fitness routine that will last until next December. Here’s how.
Ask Yourself, “Why Do I Want to Get Fit?”
If the answer is to impress your crush or make that one neighbor jealous, you’re a lot less likely to stick with your routine than if it’s about you, your health and wellbeing. Behavioral studies confirm that people who are motivated intrinsically—those who take pleasure in their exercise routine, for instance—are more likely to stick with the program. If you’re looking for good reasons to workout, think about how you’ll feel afterwards and how you’ll have some quality time for yourself.
Don’t Make It Drudgery
If you’re like most people, you do enough work as it is. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. And, since you’re going to be doing it regularly, at least three times a week, it’s definitely best to opt for something you like. Not into running? Do something else to get your cardio in, like swimming, biking, hitting the elliptical—even dancing can be a good way to go. Whatever you choose, try to do it for at least 45 minutes at a time, with a five-minute warmup and cooldown.
When you’re planning out a new workout program, it can be easy to get ahead of yourself. After all, it’s the new year and you’re flush with energy and motivation. But trying to get in shape too quickly is a sure way to burn out—and it makes you more vulnerable to injury. Alysa Boan, a Dallas-based personal trainer specializing in weight loss, says the key is to start small: “Set small, achievable goals and don’t be afraid to reward yourself. Aim for 30 minutes of cardio three times a week and go from there.” As you ramp up, stay specific in your goal setting, with well-defined benchmarks to mark your progress.
Build Your Workout into Your Daily Routine
4 p.m.: Afternoon Meeting. 5 p.m.: Leave Work. 5:30 p.m.: Hit the Gym. Trainers see clients all the time that are trying to slim down for a wedding or reunion—but the best results come when you’re in it for the long haul. Boan elaborates: “Focus on making fitness a maintainable lifestyle change, as opposed to a New Year’s resolution.” Think of your workout as another part of your everyday routine, and soon it will feel as odd to go without hitting the gym as it would to skip brushing your teeth.
Get a Friend Involved
Eventually everyone feels it: there are always days when you have to drag yourself out and onto that track. A friend (or trainer) keeps you motivated and provides support when the workout doldrums hit. More into solo workouts? You can still assign a friend to be your “accountability partner”—someone who asks for regular updates to help keep you on track.
Taking a little time to plan a long-term, healthy fitness routine can get you real results—in fact, it may even change your life. Just think where you’ll be this time next year!
Jesse Silkoff is an avid runner and tennis player. He currently resides in Austin, Texas where he works as the president and co-founder of FitnessTrainer, the leading online marketplace to find a local personal trainer that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals. Visit the Life Fitness blog for more health and fitness information: LifeFitness.com/Blog