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It is well documented that exercise is good for your body and your mind. A jolt of confidence from steady exercise and a flow of endorphins to the brain results in an improved sense of well-being. When your muscle tone looks good, you get positive feedback from peers and potential partners. Exercise helps your cardiovascular system, your muscle tone and helps ward off many of the most frightening realities of living, such as chronic obesity, heart failure and diabetes.

But how do you keep with it? You can certainly train yourself to sit on a couch and change the channels with a remote, but how do you train yourself to stick with an exercise program? Well, there are some tricks that can help. The truth is motivation can be found, manufactured and even purchased, at least indirectly. But sticking to an exercise program is hard and any trick you can find to keep at it that works – the better off you will be.

Machines and Aps

Programmable exercise machines can actually provide motivation for those who hate to exercise. It's a very simple trick, really. When you sit on an exercise bike or jump on a treadmill, make sure you program it to give you a workout that you can manage, but is, nevertheless, challenging. Then, once you get started, there is a built-in sense of motivation for finishing the program. You might stop jogging around the block when you get tired, but if a machine is programmed for 30 minutes, then you feel motivated to finish the program.

If you are out at a park or on the street for exercise, use an app to time yourself or invent a program for daily goals.

Goals

If you don't have fancy equipment that can supply you with short-term goals, you might have to invent a way to do that for yourself. Set a goal of at least 20 minutes per each cardiovascular workout. For lifting weights, chart a comfortable starting point and work your way up slowly from there.

Stretching is the one activity that is difficulty to chart in goals, but you could, for example, time your stretching.

Measure your progress

Gains you make while exercising can be dramatic or they can be as slow as a snail. If you have not exercised in a while, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the quick gains you make getting back into shape. But those gains get harder and harder to notice as time goes by.

This is the law of diminishing returns. Once your muscles firm up, it is harder to lose pounds dramatically. 


But you are making gains in endurance and strength. Find ways to measure your gains and give yourself an “Attaboy,” or an “Attagirl,” when you reach them.

Reward yourself

Never reward yourself with food. Buy yourself a CD or take a date to the movies, instead.

Games

After a while, yet another trip to the gym seems a bit redundant. You bicycle in place or jog while watching television. It can get boring, eventually.

Maybe this is why sports were invented. A soccer game or a tennis match can be just as productive, and a lot more fun, to your fitness regimen as going to the gym. Neither sport requires a great deal of skill for the participants to get a good workout. Just find a tennis court or soccer pitch available for free at most public parks and get moving. There's nothing like competition and the surprising bounce of a ball to make exercise seem fun again. A solid twenty minutes of playing soccer or tennis is sure to have you sweating through your socks. 

The equipment required for many sports is simple and relatively inexpensive. To play tennis, look around for tennis racquet brands that fit your budget along with sneakers and three fuzzy balls. For those new to the sport, do some minor research to find a tennis racquet that accommodates your skill level and price range. No need to go out and buy the most expensive top-of-the-line racquet straight away. If tennis isn't your cup of tea, soccer is just one ball among 22 players and isn't the world's most popular sport by accident. Besides a ball, all that’s really needed is a goal. Smaller, portable goals which are great for small-number games are available, and you can even just buy those small orange cones to setup as goals. In fact, if needed, makeshift items like sweatshirts or warm ups can be used for a goal. In addition to being fun and competitive, just playing either sport will improve both strength and cardio. Tennis and Soccer each involve incredible cardio to run back and forth on the court or pitch. Furthermore, tennis requires arm strength to hit strong forehands and backhands and soccer demands leg strength to kick the ball with power and run around for extended periods.

Partner Up

If games and gathering all the people together to play a sport is out of reach, you can still partner up to stimulate your motivation.

Go jogging with a partner. You might feel a bit down about running on a particular day, which is when your partner will cheer you on – and it goes both ways. When your partner feels sluggish, it's up to you to give them a pep talk and get them going again.

The beauty of playing tennis or soccer is that only two people are required to have fun and get fit. Tennis, of course, is built around a two-person match. Soccer, is traditionally a team sport and is more fun when played with teams of three people or more. However, just two people are enough to kick the ball around, run drills, take shots at the goal, and get a serious workout.

Find a compatible partner – socially, as well as an equal in fitness. When you need a push, your partner will be there to provide it.

In addition, look online for a list of activities you can do with a partner that cannot be done alone. A partner can greatly increase your exercise options. The more the merrier, as they say.


Exercise: Oh, How We Hate To Lose (Weight)
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