Have you ever started an exercise program only to watch it slip away?
“About 50 percent of those motivated enough to start an exercise program drop out within the first six months,” said Edward McAuley, Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Illinois, who teaches sports and exercise psychology.
One reason may be that you haven’t had the chance to develop self-confidence in your ability to continue with it over the long term. According to McAuley, for the best results you should do at least 20 to 40 minutes of light to moderate aerobic exercise three times a week. But if you are like most of us, the best intentions don’t always happen. Only about 20 percent of adults stick to their program.
About 40 percent don’t exercise at all. The most sedentary group is adults 45 to 64 years old. The big question is why do we stop exercising? According to McAuley, “It should be remembered that initial involvement in an exercise program might not be a particularly pleasant, fun or enjoyable experience.”
The most common reasons for quitting are time constraints and lack of motivation. “It’s not that people can’t go out and exercise for 20 minutes, but it’s that they find a reason not to.” What you need is to emphasize the gains you are making through exercise, McAuley said. Build you self-confidence, gear your exercise program to see results from day one. Look for progress and celebrate any improvement.
The most important thing is getting past the 3-month hump. Based on a five-month study, McAuley concluded that the first three months of a program are the crucial period for deciding the longevity of an exercise program. If the exercise program i
s conducted with attention to developing self-confidence, you are much less likely to drop out during the following months, he said.
“People with a belief in their abilities to exercise, even in the face of obstacles, exercise more often and perceive the exercise to be less physically demanding,” McAuley said. With time, exercise will become a fulfilling part of your life.
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