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Jazz Up Your Exercise

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Dear Dr. Levister:

I recently started an exercise program. I’m pumped up and actually lost five pounds. In the past I dropped out after two months. What can I do to stay motivated?

J.C.


Dear J.C.: Variety is said to be the spice of life, but it’s also the key ingredient in the recipe for a healthy lifestyle. If you adopt a fitness plan that involves a wide variety of fun and interesting activities, you are far more likely to stick to your exercise regimen over the long haul.

Research shows 50 percent of those who start a fitness program drop out after six months. One of the biggest reasons for the drop-off is boredom. The same tired routine, even an effective one, can become dull over time. Most people don’t like to exercise.

So if exercising feels more like drudgery than fun, chances are you won’t be doing it for long. Don’t force yourself to do traditional exercise activities like running on a treadmill or using a stair climber, that can be boring.

Add a dash of creativity to a lackluster routine. Walk in the park two days a week, one day on the indoor treadmill. Instead of E-mailing that special someone make a date for a bike trip. Take a picnic lunch, find scenic areas for rest stops. Try rollerblading, swimming or take a hike in the mountains.

Try incorporating exercise little-by-little into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a walk during lunch, leave your car and cycle to work. Working toward a goal can keep your motivation high. Remember to make your health goals specific and reasonable. That is where many of us fail.

Instead of aiming for a generic goal such as I want to lose weight and get in shape, pick an achievable target, such as getting back into your old pair of jeans or being able to jog five miles by year’s end.

Above all make your exercise regimen fun. Remember to reward yourself. A colorful t-shirt, funky hat, or a new pair of workout shoes can boost a sagging regimen. If you add a bit of zest to your workout, you’ll be sure to kick up your energy and enthusiasm for exercise.

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