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Why it's Tough to Stick to a Workout Routine

It’s incredibly easy to think of reasons NOT to exercise - I had a long day at work, I’m too tired, lack of time in my busy schedule, I can’t afford a gym membership... the list goes on and on.

Research has shown that only one in five, or 20 percent of adult Americans meet the federal government’s physical activity guidelines. This guideline consists of two and a half hours a week of moderate to intense aerobic activity, such as walking or jogging, and muscle-strengthening activities, such push-ups or sit-ups. Preferably, these activities should be done over the span of two or more days per week.

Now, let's take a look at the larger scale. A whopping 81 percent of adults are 'insufficiently physically active'. Some of the factors due to this are environmental, such as the use of public transportation instead of walking and the lack of parks, sidewalks, and sports recreation facilities. Other factors due to the urbanization of areas are pollution and low-air quality, fear of violence in outdoor areas, and high-density traffic.

For an overview of this, use the graphic below for reference of this global issue.

Do any of these factors apply to your own life? If so, let’s figure out how we can reverse the pattern.

First, when implementing physical activity into your lifestyle, it’s important to understand the science behind behavioral change and how the brain can be trained to actually make change happen.

The general categories for lack of behavioral change include:

  1. Social: You and your friends would rather spend Friday going out and drinking than working out.

  2. Environmental: Gym memberships are expensive!

  3. Behavioral: Those ultra-toned influencers on Instagram are way too intimidating, and something to only dream about looking like.

  4. Physical: Sweating and sore muscles? No thanks.

After identifying your roadblocks, apply them to the Theory of Planned Behavior, one of the most well-supported and widely used theories when it comes to applying behavior change to exercise, consisting of the following stages:

Attitude: Identify your internal thoughts and perception of exercise. Have you had a strained or triggering relationship with working out in the past? Do you want to change the way you look physically to improve your self-confidence, and/or to impress those around you?

Subjective Norm: Evaluate your environment by taking external factors into account. Does your family want you to focus on work or your studies? Do your friends just want to drink and go out most weekends?

After analyzing why you want to achieve this goal, identity the:

Perceived Behavioral Control: How confident are you in having the ability to achieve your fitness goals? For example, if you are just starting a workout routine for the first time, consider a mild exercise such as walking; beginner workouts; or a beginner level fitness class. If you feel confident and able to complete your routine, this will maintain your behavioral control to stick to it!

Here are a few of the most common reasons we tend to not follow through with our workout routines - and simple ways to turn these around!

01. Accountability

Make a set time in your schedule to get moving. This can be as short as 20 minutes, but think of it as any other block in your schedule, like going to the doctor’s or coffee with a friend.

A study published in Psychological Science examined “planfulness” as a trait among 282 participants, and how it can apply to routinely attending the gym. Those with significantly higher attendance over the course of 20 weeks had regularly logged when they would plan to go in advance.

Maybe mid-afternoon or in the morning before work, you have spare time for some cardio, but feel too groggy and tired. As paradoxical as it may sound, studies show that increased regular exercise improves energy levels, and can even help those struggling with long-term diseases such as chronic fatigue and heart disease.

Craving a group workout, to get some peer motivation and incorporate an adrenaline boost into your schedule? Milsner Fitness offers short morning and afternoon classes! Browse our schedule to find the class that works best for you.

02. Too large of goals set

“Losing 20 pounds” is a great long-term goal, but it can be difficult to stay motivated to reach these larger goals. How should you create the steps to reach your end goal? The key is to start small and specific! Do you have research to support this? Best practices in goal setting?

Set smaller goals throughout your week that will keep you going, such as “lose one pound per week”, or “burn 100 more calories” in addition to what you are already burning. Add 20 more crunches to your core routine, or an extra half mile to your weekly run.

A study by Gail Matthews found that those who recorded specific goals for themselves were 33 percent more successful than those who did not. Goal-making is crucial because it provides a road-map for you to follow, and achieving small goals along the way will in-turn heighten your motivation to achieve your larger ones.

An effective tool that can be used when setting fitness goals is the SMART method. This method. This acronym stands for:

  • Specific: “I want to run a 5k” instead of “I want to be healthier”

  • Measurable: “I want to lose 10 pounds” instead of “I want to lose weight”

  • Attainable: Create a goal that is realistic for you. for example, “Losing 1 pound a week” is more doable than “Losing 10 pounds in one week”

  • Relevant: Set a goal that caters to your interest. If you want to run a 5k, intense spinning classes may not be the best way to achieve that goal.

  • Timeline: Set a specific time-oriented schedule to keep you focused and on track, so that you have a deadline to stay accountable for, referring back to the timeline section of the SMART method. For example, it you are trying to reach the ability of holding a 1 minute plank by the end of a month, consistently hold a 30 second plank every day, and add an additional 10 seconds at the end of every week.

03. You don’t reward yourself

It’s important to treat yo-self after meeting your goals, no matter how small! Grab your favorite lunch, post-workout smoothie, or even schedule a massage to keep you motivated.

Having small rewards for your goals reached will help to improve task performance for completing these intrinsic goals.

Intrinsic goals are the immediate rewards gained that fulfill internal satisfaction. These short-term rewards can be that runner’s high or extreme joy you experience after working out.

After identifying your immediate intrinsic goals, apply them to larger, long-term ones that you want to achieve.

Extrinsic Goals are the longterm effects from your goals, which take into effect after weeks, to months, to years. Consistently exercising for just a few weeks can evoke changes such as improved mood, metabolic rate, and brain functions. Constant exercise over years has been shown to prevent chronic diseases down to the line, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and heart failure, as well as mental diseases including depression and anxiety.

Wondering how you can keep these goals attainable? Here are some simple tips!

Set your goals in writing: Articulating your goals in written form is shown to have a strong correlation with goal success. Studies have shown that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Little post-its on your wall or on your mirror stating your goals never hurt! Leave yourself friendly reminders about why you want to achieve your fitness goals, so you can wake up every morning with a warm and friendly sign to keep moving.

Stay inspired: Follow motivational social media accounts that can encourage and inspire you to reach your fitness goals ( !!)

Listen to podcasts encouraging the positive effects of exercise.

04. You’re not enjoying your workout

Make your workout more enjoyable with just a few of these tips:

Create a workout playlist you enjoy! Studies show that incorporating music into physical exercise enhances enjoyment and improves your body’s physical responsivness. Find a playlist you can jam to and make your workouts something to look forward to!

Get a workout buddy! A study published by Michigan State University found that working out with a partner can increase your workout time and intensity by as much as 200%! This study incorporates the Kohler Effect, a theory stating how the performance of an individual can improve when the effort is dependent on another individual.

Milsner Fitness offers a variety of online partner workouts that you and your exercise buddy can sign up for now!

05. You’re not benefiting from your workout

Let’s be honest, why would you want to exercise if it’s not something you can benefit from, meeting your personal fitness goals?

There are countless benefits to personalized workout programs, Having someone in your corner can provide support and motivation, as well hold yourself accountable to reaching your individualized fitness goals.

Research has proven that personalized training is an effective method for changing ones attitude around exercise, and therefore increasing their amount of physical activity. Supervised training has been proven to provide higher levels of strength improvement than unsupervised.

Milsner Fitness can support you with providing the most beneficial workouts! In dire need of a core definition workout? Or maybe you want to focus on improved muscle flexibility? Take our survey now to tell us what YOU want to see, and how we can help!

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