Dr. Fuhrman Dr. Fuhrman

How to stick to a schedule of regular exercise

pen and calendar

Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project has a great post about sticking to an exercise schedule. A couple of things that stood out for me (Gretchen's points are in bold; I added my thoughts after them):

  • Never skip exercising for two days in a row. I have two rest days in my schedule and when life really gets in the way I can juggle a bit with those; that gives some space without feeling guilty.
  • If you don’t have time both to exercise and take a shower, find exercise where in many cases you don’t need to shower afterward. This also fits in with doing small things during the day. I did weight training whenever my recently potty trained toddler sat on the toilet.
  • Look for affordable ways to make exercising more pleasant or satisfying. My new running jacket completely changed my enjoyment of running. It keeps wind and rain out but it does breathe very well. I now even like running in light rain and wind doesn't bother me nearly as much as before (ever since I lost weight I am more sensitive to cold, so running outside in this rainy cold climate does not seem the most obvious choice).
  • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I once read that to burn fat you have to exercise for at least 30 minutes. So I did nothing, because with a small baby I did not have 30 minutes in a row. Of course, it would have been much better to just do the things I could do (walking up and down stairs for five minutes, for example).

I would add two things:

  • If you do a high intensity sport: go slowly. When I started running I thought I had to run at about 12 minutes per mile. I was exhausted after even two minutes of running. In the second week I switched to running with a heart rate monitor and I limited my heart rate to 150. It meant running at almost walking speed (15 minutes per mile) but I was not exhausted at all anymore. It is much more enjoyable now. One of the highest risks for not sticking with a running schedule is starting too fast, getting injured, and then thinking running is not for me. It is sometimes very frustrating to run this slowly, but I am convinced this is the best way to start and that speed will come once I built some endurance and my legs are used to running.
  • Make yourself accountable. Tell everybody you know that you started running three days a week and that you'll be able to run 5K in two months (or whatever your goal is). You can also start an online training log (here is one I started today). A training log does not only make you accountable, it is also motivating and fun to see your progress.

May 29, 2006