Exercise Plans

by Trudy Despain
(last updated August 23, 2013)

With access to the internet, fitness plans are literally at your fingertips. Digging through all the information and choosing the right fitness plan can be discouraging. But keep in mind that you are the expert of your body. You know what you like and what will keep you motivated when things get tough. Here are a few tips to follow when sifting through the options for fitness plans.

Take your fitness level into consideration. Erica decided that she wanted to run a half marathon and asked me to create a training plan for her. I knew that her fitness level would limit her ability to complete a half marathon but I also knew her determination was sure. The longest distance she had ever run was four miles so we started there. She followed the training program faithfully but the day of the race was still difficult. By the time Erica finished the race she could barely walk from the pain in her feet. Her determination was admirable but I felt terrible for leading her to do something that would cause so much pain. Exercise has to be fun and enjoyable. If it hurts to the point of tears, why would anyone except masochists ever participate? Luckily Erica didn't quit after such a horrible experience. She continued to train with me and went on to participate in a 10k six weeks later. Completing the half marathon was painful but it also taught her that she had the physical ability to accomplish great things. As you choose a fitness plan keep in mind that it should be challenging but not so much so that it becomes discouraging.

Consider your fitness goals. Many people exercise to lose weight. While weight loss is important, but let it be a by produce of your fitness plan, not the intended goal. Overall fitness is not completely determined by waist circumference but by ability and endurance as well. Choose a goal that will have deeper meaning than weight loss. One friend of mine was out of shape and becoming depressed due to lack of activity. Rather than focus on weight loss, she chose to sign up for a 15-mile backcountry running race. She loved to hike and be in the outdoors and this type of race would encourage her to get out and do more of the things she loved. She participated in the race and went on to complete a marathon two months later. The love of the chosen activity sustained her through the arduous training schedules while weight loss and improved fitness levels were natural consequences of doing something she loved.

Have a friend to help. As you determine your fitness plan, keep in mind that for most people it is easier to stick to a plan if you have a friend along for the ride. Finding a fitness partner means more than calling your best friend and asking her to workout with you. The best partner is on a similar level of fitness as you and has the same determination to follow a plan. Check out clubs in your area that focus on your chosen activity. Running, biking, walking and swimming clubs often host free or inexpensive groups in varying levels of ability. Having someone to report to and who relies on you to show up every day will help you stick to your fitness plans.

By making a few considerations and creating a supportive environment you will be more likely to succeed in your fitness goals and enjoy yourself in the process.

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