Get to work ... working out

It’s a common pattern. You begin an exercise program and attend regularly and faithfully for several months; you start to see results — improved muscle tone, fewer aches and pains, pants fit better, more energy and stamina. But something comes up. Life gets busy. You miss one week, then another. Oh well, you think, I can always get back into it whenever I want. There’s too much going on right now.

Maintaining good health requires regular physical activity, month after month, year after year. Starting in again tomorrow is better than not starting at all, but for many people, tomorrow is a long time coming. Some people spend more time procrastinating (and making excuses) than they do exercising.

Procrastination can keep you from addressing many important health issues. When you find yourself procrastinating, whether it’s your exercise program, lifestyle change or a project at home, try to figure out why you are putting off the task. Sometimes we have a good reason for procrastinating. The task might be something we feel we don’t really need to do. Sometimes we simply need more information before we begin. Sometimes a project doesn’t “feel right.” We have doubts about the approach that is being taken. If you are unsure of why you are doing what you’re doing, and question the value of the exercise program, talk to the recreation center instructors. Your procrastination may have a serious, worthwhile message. Listen to it and modify your exercise program accordingly.

Here are some tips to bear in mind when you begin an exercise program.

Fight perfectionism and give it your best shot.

Do the best with what you’ve got. For an older person, instead of competing with the 20-year-old athlete you once were, focus on the positive benefits you are gaining from your current program.

Anticipate some drudgery — that’s why it’s called working out. Do everything you can to make your fitness program as convenient and enjoyable as possible. Commit yourself by blocking off escape routes. Make some appointments with the recreation center personal trainer or arrange with instructors to attend regularly scheduled classes. Make it as difficult as possible to miss your exercise time.

If all you can handle right now is a class twice a week, start with that. Start small, as an overly ambitious program is easier to procrastinate. If the thought of approaching your workout turns you off, don’t think about it. Just get dressed for it, one step at a time, and soon you will be out the door. When you complete your workout, reward yourself with a soak in the hot tub, a massage, or a low fat treat.

Getting up and getting out is the starting point of regular exercise … so go for it!