Research states that if you can stick with an exercise for at least 66 days, you’re more likely make it a permanent habit. Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as we’d like for it to be. With busy workdays, family responsibilities, and endless to-do lists, finding time to workout can be tough. These five tricks will help keep you on the right track to achieving your fitness goals.
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Start Small, Aim High
Fixating on your long-term goals, such as losing 20 pounds, can set you up for early disappointment. Instead, set realistic goals that you can achieve daily or weekly: Bike for 35 minutes instead of 30 minutes, hold a plank position for 15 seconds longer, or shave five seconds off of your 5K time. Achieving short-term goals gives you a sense of triumph that keeps you motivated on the way to your long-term goals.
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Track Your Progress
When you start a new workout routine, keeping a journal or writing a blog is a great way to keep track of your overall progress. Take note of how you feel each day during your workout and be sure to praise yourself for any fitness gains that you made. Fitness trackers with pedometers, such as UP by Jawbone or Fitbit, can be helpful since they can record your progress inside and outside of the gym.
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Grab a Friend
Working out with partners who share similar fitness goals is a smart way to exercise consistently. Whether you join a running group, sign up for a weekly fitness class, or simply walk around the neighborhood together, scheduling time to meet a friend for exercise helps hold you accountable. In fact, a recent study found that working out with a group might push you to exercise harder and longer than you would by yourself.
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Unplug from social media or texting when you exercise—just leave your cell phone behind if you’re jogging or hitting the gym. If you prefer to exercise with music, consider an MP3 player. You’re more likely to have a successful workout if you stay focused. If you’re doing a cardio routine, stopping to answer a text decreases your heart rate, lessoning the effect of the exercise.
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Add Motivators and Incentives
There’s nothing wrong with a little incentive to get you moving. Giving yourself a reason to workout makes a visit to the gym much more bearable. For example, sign up for a big race in a fun city to jumpstart a training plan (and work in a mini-vacation as well). Even smaller incentives such as a visit to your favorite coffee shop can help you mentally push through a tough workout. One study suggests that a cash incentive for exercising pushed participants to increase the amount they worked out. Try it: Keep a money jar and deposit $1 every time you finish a workout.