Why Consistency Matters Most for Getting Fitter and How to Be More Consistent
It’s easy to stick with an exercise program when you first start out; moving your body is new and there’s a novelty to lacing up your exercise shoes and launching into a heart-thumping workout. But how do you feel a few weeks later when the novelty wears off? You might find yourself making excuses not to work out or shortening your sweat sessions. Pretty soon, days go by without working up a sweat and you fall back into old sedentary habits that do nothing for your health or fitness level.
In a world where people expect instant gratification and results yesterday, this situation is all too common. Guys and gals start a fitness program with a bang, and it ends with a whimper–and then nothing. Despite good intentions, it’s back to the couch without the incredible benefits that exercise offers.
Why Consistency Matters
Consistency can make all the difference in whether you get fit or stay the same. Next after consistency comes patience. It takes time to see the difference in fitness, not to mention a change in weight and physical appearance.
How can you avoid this fate? Choose a fitness program or activity you can sustain. What’s the key to sustainability? Enjoyment and satisfaction! Select something that brings joy, or at least you don’t mind doing, and start slowly. You’re more likely to stick with it if you start slow, maybe 10 minutes per day, and expand your training from there. Make a goal that’s specific, achievable, and sustainable.
Know What You Enjoy and What You Don’t
Make sure the exercise you choose suits you and your personality. For example, if you hate to run, running shouldn’t be an option, even if your best friend does it and tells you it’s the best way to stay in shape. Maybe for her or him it is, but not necessarily for you. Make a list of sports and fitness activities you enjoy and choose from that list.
If you’re an outdoor person, think about exercise you can do in nature such as hiking or canoeing. You can even get an effective workout at a local park. Take a brisk walk or jog around the perimeter and then use a park bench to do exercises like push-ups and triceps dips by placing your hands on the bench. Choose an exercise you enjoy, and it will make all the difference in whether you succeed and are consistent.
If you like exercising and socializing, find an exercise buddy to work out with you or join a club focused on some aspect of physical activity. Most areas have hiking, walking, running, and cycling clubs where you can hook up with other people who enjoy the same activity and have similar goals. The extra stimulation of being around like-minded people will motivate you and help you stay consistent.
Vary Your Workouts to Stay Motivated
Another reason people become less consistent and throw in the towel is they get bored. Exercise won’t always be pleasant, but it shouldn’t bore you. Don’t be afraid to vary your chosen fitness routine by trying new workouts. Just be sure you do enough exercise to boost your heart rate in your cardiovascular training zone. Also, make sure you’re doing some form of strength training two or three days each week to build strength and preserve muscle mass.
Stay challenged too. On some days, add an extra challenge to your workout. Increase the speed at which you walk or tackle some hills when you walk or cycle. Extra challenge, in moderation, is what helps you get fitter, faster, or stronger and ensures you stay motivated. Remember, motivation is one key to consistency. If you do the same workouts over and over, your body will adapt to that workout and you’ll stop making improvements in fitness. Boredom will follow close behind. Your brain and body thrive on trying and accomplishing new things.
The Bottom Line
Are you ready to get started and stay consistent this time? Try these suggestions and make fitness a lifetime habit, rather than something you do for a few weeks and then stop entirely. Exercise offers benefits throughout a lifetime and you’ll never enjoy the returns unless you stick with and stay consistent.
NIFS.org. “In Training, Consistency Is the Key to Your Fitness Goals”
Active.com. “Consistency: The Most Important Element of Training”
DiscoverMagazine.com. “Consistent Exercise is Better Exercise”
Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012; 9: 78.Published online 2012 Jun 22. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-9-78.