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Making a Commitment to Exercise

You want to start an exercise routine, but where do you begin?

family playing basketball outside.

“I really should go work out.” “I’m a little achy today. I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.” “My dog ate my gym shoe.”

Sound familiar? If you know you should exercise, but you just can’t quite get going, you’re not alone. Even when you have the best intentions, you still find an excuse not to. Maybe you think exercising is boring. Or you’re too out of shape, too old or too achy. But you’ll find that once you start, you’ll feel better.

When you are ready to ditch the excuses and start exercising, the most important thing to remember is to start slowly. And start with an activity you enjoy. Make your first few workouts fun, and don’t overdo it. Your body needs to get used to exercising gradually. Some easy ways to get moving include walking as often as possible, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or playing catch with your kids.

Ideally, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. But it’s fine if you want to break up your activity into smaller chunks—say, three quick 10-minute workouts a day, five times a week. No matter how you get the activity in, what’s important is that you get moving.

Don’t overwhelm yourself by setting your goals too high. You might get discouraged and give up. Give yourself some easy-to-reach goals and build from there.

It’s great when you start exercising regularly. But sometimes sticking with it long term is a challenge. To keep yourself interested—and challenged—consider these suggestions:

  • Mix it up. If you tend to do the same workout routine over and over, you might get bored. Trying new things will help keep you motivated.
  • Try the buddy system. Having a workout partner keeps you accountable. And it can simply be more fun to work out with someone else.
  • Make a goal. Giving yourself something to work toward can be very motivating.
  • Schedule your workout. Try to think of working out as an appointment you have to keep.
  • Plan ahead. For instance, if you’re going to the gym straight from work, make sure you have your gym bag packed and in the car.

Exercising brings its own rewards, like better fitness, losing weight, building strength, boosting mood and sleeping better. But don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for every accomplishment. And don’t be hard on yourself and expect miraculous results or overnight success. Most of all, make the commitment. Take the plunge into being more active. You might just find that you enjoy it.

By Emily Gurnon, Contributing Writer

Sources Physical activity guidelines for Americans 2nd edition. Accessed March 8, 2019. Move your way. Accessed March 8, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity basics. Accessed March 8, 2019.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Tips for getting active. Accessed March 8, 2019.

Updated March 27, 2019