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How to start exercising and sticking to it

You're not alone if you’re having trouble beginning an exercise plan or following through. Despite our best efforts, we struggle to snap out of the sedentary rut.

While practical concerns like a busy schedule or poor health can make exercise more challenging, for most of us, the most significant barriers are mental. Maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence that keeps you from taking positive steps, your motivation quickly flames out, or you get discouraged and give up. We’ve all been there at some point.

Whatever your age or fitness level—even if you’ve never exercised a day before—you can make exercise less intimidating and painful and more fun and instinctive.

Ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or force yourself into monotonous or painful activities you hate to experience exercise's physical and emotional benefits. A little exercise is better than nothing. Adding modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can profoundly affect your mental and emotional health.

Be kind to yourself. Research shows that self-compassion increases your likelihood of succeeding in any endeavour. So, don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current fitness level, or your supposed lack of willpower. All that will do is demotivate you. Instead, look at your past mistakes and unhealthy choices as opportunities to learn and grow.

Check your expectations. You didn’t get out of shape overnight and won’t transform your body instantly. Expecting too much too soon only leads to frustration. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t accomplish or how far you must go to reach your fitness goals. Instead of obsessing over results, focus on consistency. While mood and energy levels may improve quickly, the physical payoff will come in time.

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