5 Ways to Find Your Perfect Workout Routine

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By: , – Dr. Thomas J. Kleeman, MD
  :  5 comments   :  39,327 Views

I hate working out! There, I said it. We all have reasons for exercising, but for many of us, it’s not because we genuinely love it. Working out has a slew of health benefits, makes us feel and look better, and can even slow down the aging process and help boost our immune systems. But sometimes, those reasons alone aren't motivating enough to get us up off the couch if exercise isn't already an established part of our routines. So, how do we go from being sedentary to making fitness a regular part of our daily lives? Honestly, the hardest part is getting started—and these five steps will help give you the motivation you need to make that first step (literally and figuratively). 

Step 1: Find Your Reason.  Before you can get started, you have to have a reason for working out. Maybe you gained a little more weight than you thought at your last doctor's appointment, or maybe diabetes runs in your family. Or maybe, you simply looked in the mirror and didn’t like what you saw. Once you have established your reason, don’t let it go. Hold on to it and keep it in your thoughts every day. 

Step 2: Set a Goal. This is where a lot of people set themselves up to fail. All of your goals should be easily broken down into smaller goals. If you are trying to lose weight, start with a 5-pound benchmark and go from there. If you want to run a marathon, start with a 5K race. If you are just trying to look better and become fitter, post an inspirational quote or image in a place where you will see it every day. It is extremely important to visualize your goals. Envision yourself looking and feeling the way you want--and then strive to become that person!

Step 3: Make a Plan. Now that you have set a fitness goal to change your life, you have to figure out the best way to obtain it. Finding the right exercise program for you might take some trial and error. Remember, what works for one person might not necessarily work for you, and you may need to do a little research.  Look for programs that seem sustainable for the long haul, and remember: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. A good program should incorporate both cardio and strength training, and should allow you to evolve over time, starting from a beginner level and taking you all the way to a more advanced level as you progress. Start slowly and work your way up—you'll get there!

Step 4: Find Your "When" and "Where." This might seem like the easy part, but it can be surprisingly challenging to find a place and time to exercise that works with your schedule. What is most realistic for you? Can you work out at home? Do you need to join a gym? Which gym? Once you have done your research and made your choice, schedule your workouts in writing the same way you would write in a business meeting or dentist appointment. Once it is written down, don’t change it for anything. If you wake up in the morning and tell yourself that you are going to work out at some time during that day, the odds are that you won’t. On the other hand, if it is in the book as an integrated part of the schedule for the day, you have a much better chance of not skipping.

Step 5: Form a Habit. Ever heard of the 21-day rule? It's been said that it takes 21 days to create a habit. In reality, it takes some people more and others less, but the concept is the same. Habits are patterns of behavior that, when repeated over and over in the same sequence, create synaptic pathways in the brain. As the synaptic pathways become established, the habit becomes more natural and easier to repeat. For example, on days that I am seeing patients in the office, my lunch routine is to eat a sandwich, grab a bottle of water, and hit the elliptical for 30 minutes. On weekends, the routine is to wake up, make coffee, and do The Doctor's Workout. By linking several established habits to the workout, it becomes a habit as well.

So don’t worry if you don’t like to work out. Neither do I. But think about this: There are many things in life that we don’t necessarily like, but need to do because they are essential to our health and well-being. Remember the feeling you had after you finished a good workout? It was priceless and it stayed with you for hours. Compare that to the feeling you had when you skipped a workout. That one also stayed with you for hours (for all the wrong reasons). Ditch the excuses and follow the 5-step program. It will change your life--and may even save it.

About the Author
Dr. Thomas J. Kleeman, MD, is nationally-renowned orthopedic surgeon and founder of the New Hampshire Neurospine Institute. With the help of his wife Anne, he has become dedicated to the use of exercise and good nutrition as a means of maintaining quality of life during the aging process.  Now 66, he is a cancer survivor who found the benefits of exercise and nutrition instrumental in his own recovery.  Along with his wife Anne, a registered nurse and certified fitness professional, he has launched MDfitness: The Doctor's Workout on DVD—an easy to follow exercise program designed for people over 40, along with EatandBeFit, a nutrition and fitness blog.


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Comments

  • 5
    I also like to workout late in the morning!
    I like my coffee time! - 3/23/2017   10:04:36 PM
  • 4
    Its always difficult to start my exercise routine, but its always worth doing. My schedule has me exercising pretty much first thing in the morning. It may only be 20 minutes of walk away the pounds, it may be an hour plus with 20 minutes of kettle ball or weight training and 20 minutes of yoga. Regardless of how I feel when I start the music, by the time I'm 5 or 10 minutes into it, I'm awake, moving with the beat, and getting my heart rate up. The results are slow, but steady, and that gets me back into position the next morning. - 8/30/2016   8:52:44 PM
  • JANETEMILY
    3
    I have walked for years, but summer in the south makes it difficult - above 90 almost every day! Started circuit training because it's something to do inside. Have lost weight, but need to lose about 5 more pounds to get past obese BMI to overweight. I also just turned 60, but at my physical last month, cholesterol, sugar, and all other blood tests were in the normal range thanks to daily exercise and healthy eating... and no medication! - 8/30/2016   12:12:50 PM
  • 2
    I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to working out. I hate to get started but love when I have accomplished the task at hand. - 8/30/2016   8:27:10 AM
  • 1
    I prefer to work out in the mornings, but the cold dark winter days often counter my best intentions. When I do make it to the gym in the AM, I stop to appreciate how GREAT I feel post-workout. I then recall that feeling the next morning as I'm still snuggled under the comforter -- it gives me the motivation to get up and get moving. - 3/8/2015   8:01:06 AM

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