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Motivation, or a Lack Thereof, Is One Reason Many People Stop Exercising

Here are some tips for avoiding burnout:

Think of exercise as a menu rather than a prescription. Choose a number of different physical activities that are personally enjoyable such as sports, dancing, or biking. Although experts say you should get 30 minutes of aerobic exercises at least five times a week, those times can be divided into shorter periods — such as 10 minute sessions. In addition, people can achieve health benefits from other exercise programs, including weight training, yoga, or tai chi.

Stick to a prepared schedule and record progress.

Develop an interest or hobby that requires physical activity.

Adopt simple routines such as climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, walking instead of driving to the local newsstand, or canoeing instead of zooming along in a powerboat.

Try cross training (alternating between exercise types). Studies suggest it is more beneficial than focusing only on one form of exercise.

Exercise with friends.

Consider getting a dog. A study in the February 2006 American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that dog owners in Canada walk almost twice as much as those who do not own a dog. Regular walking is a good way to improve health.

Differences in Motivation Between Men and Women. Motivation factors may differ by gender, and women appear to have a harder time. In one study, weight loss was the greatest motivator to exercise for women, and muscle tone was the primary motivator for men. Unfortunately, effects on appearances may take a long time to show, discouraging people from continuing an exercise program even though their health is improving.