5 Ways to Get Couch Potatoes to Exercise

A certain sports shoe manufacturer’s famous “Just do it” slogan sums up the best advice to get healthy adults moving. That’s the gist of a 2011 report on effective strategies for motivating people to become physically active.

Researchers culled over the results of existing studies to figure out which methods were most likely to ease a healthy adult off the couch and into a fitness routine. They concluded that behavioral strategies work best.

Motivating Others
If you want to nudge someone into being more physically active, take note that “cognitive strategies,” such as offering words of encouragement over the telephone or by email may not get the job done. You’re better off getting up close and personal to say “Exercise, already!” to a couch-potato family member or friend.

On the other hand, if it’s your exercise level that needs a boost, try using these behavioral strategies:

Set Goals
Plan to workout on a certain number of days each week and for a certain amount of time on each of those days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that most 18- to 64-year-olds engage in 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, which works the heart and lungs, five or more days each week. In addition, the CDC suggests that adults do muscle-toning exercises on two or more days per week.

Certain workouts combine cardiovascular and toning exercise. For instance, if you go on a a brisk 30-minute walk, you’ll work your heart and lungs as well as your lower body muscles.

Get Feedback
Talk to someone, like your significant other or personal trainer, about how well your workouts are going. Getting an objective opinion can help you see how far you’ve come and areas where you can improve.

Give Rewards
When you stick to your exercise plan, allow yourself a treat, perhaps a manicure. Make sure you reward yourself with something non-food oriented.

Notice Cues
Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you’re overdoing it exercise-wise, slow down. But if you’ve worked out and have hardly broken a sweat, you may need to ramp up your workout a notch or two.

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