Determine when you could realistically spend time exercising
When starting a new activity, you have to first realistically determine when you can DO that activity. If you are busy driving home from work or cooking dinner at 5pm each night that will not be the time of day to try to exercise. So, pull out your calendar and put some serious thought into when, every day, you could do some type of exercise. Don’t worry about what that exercise is, just determine the time and how much time it would be.
Example: You really would like to go to bed earlier each night. This may be the motivator you’ve been looking for, because if you went to bed earlier, you could get up earlier, and then exercise.
Example: You really could use a break from work in the middle of the day. You often take a couple hours for lunch just to escape work, so this could be shortened to also include some type of activity. There is a racquetball court not far from work and you have some old college buddies who might be interested in a lunchtime game or two.
Example: If you exercised first thing in the morning, before other activities, it would be done each day without guilt. You really do have the time if you do it first thing but you just let yourself sleep in each morning.
Example: There is just no place on your schedule that you can find a continuous 60 minutes you are willing to commit to exercise. However, you could do 20 minutes in the morning, 15-20 minutes at lunch, and 20 minutes in the evening.
Investigate what activities you would like to do
Again, it has to be something you’re going to enjoy, or it won’t matter that you found the time! So, consider all options that are realistic. Do you have a pool that you would enjoy using? Look into group exercise classes at clubs near you, or perhaps the local “Y”. Some people do better if they are committed to show up somewhere, others prefer to do it at home and not have to dress to come and go.
Sit down and make a list of all possibilities as well as all locations you would like to look into. Consider finding an exercise partner. Maybe you would enjoy taking a walk with a neighbor, family member or friend.
Example: Several friends have invited you to join their basketball game once a week after work. You have thought about it but never follow through.
Example: You see two neighbors out walking each morning. You know them both but have put off contacting them to see if they would mind a third person.
Example: A workmate has been taking a Yoga class at lunchtime each week. She has invited you several times but you have always found some excuse to avoid it.
Example: You have a treadmill at home that stores blankets. You can clean them off and use it in the morning and night, and at lunch you can go for a walk with workmates who take a 15 minute walk each day.
Put it on your calendar
Especially when you first start a new activity, if you don’t write it down, you may forget about it. This may not be because you are trying to avoid it, but seriously because it’s not a habit, yet. Also, the busier you are, the more important it is that you include it on your calendar. For some people, if it’s on their calendar, they take the activity more seriously.
For example, I recently started taking Pilates classes, but they have to be entered into my calendar because it’s between clients in the course of my day. If I did not have it on my calendar, I may forget and schedule clients in that time.
Prepare ahead for the activity
The more prepared you are, the more likely it is you will do it. If you exercise first thing in the morning, have your workout clothes out and ready to put on. If you walk during lunchtime at work, make sure you pack a bag that has your shoes and any change of clothes for the walk.
Another example of preparing would be if there is a class you’d like to take but you have scheduled another appointment for that time. If it’s an appointment that can be moved, move that so that you can create a habit with your new exercise class.