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How to Make Exercise a Daily Habit and Healthy Lifestyle

If you haven't ever been bitten by the exercise bug, you may find yourself facing new challenges when you want to lose a few pounds or take up new hobbies that require a certain level of fitness to enjoy.

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Exercise, a natural daily activity for some naturally active people, takes training and perseverance for the rest of us. The good news? It's never too late to start! Regular exercise, even gently done, is good for the balance, the mind and the spirit. You don't have to run five miles each day to get great exercise and become physically fit: you can walk, swim, lift weights, work out with a Yoga class or learn to dance. The main thing is that you find some activity you enjoy doing and do it at least three times a week for at least half an hour.

Don't do too much Enthusiastic?

Great! But, if you do the intense aerobic workout instead of staying at the beginner level, you're not increasing your fitness by leaps and bounds: in fact, you may be leaping and bounding your way into muscle strains and joint injuries. Start with where you're at, not where you want to be, and have some patience. Remember that whenever you're exercising, you're doing good things for your body. You shouldn't experience pain and shouldn't be gasping when you exercise—these things mean you're overdoing it or maybe even doing it wrong. If you want to see a lot of progress in a little time, don't overdo your workout, but do it more frequently instead.

Do what you like

Don't push yourself to do things you don't enjoy, and don't listen to people who tell you that you need to suffer in order to become fit. If you like to dance and don't want to lift weights, never fear. Dancing is as legitimate an activity as sweating through a workout at the gym. If you like to bike and hate to walk, then get on the bike. It's true that some activities burn more calories than others, but it's also true that you're more likely to do a workout that's fun.

Hate all forms of exercise? Instead of giving up, assume you just haven't found the right one. Or the right venue. Try everything! And try having company. Some people need to have other people around to work out with: it takes their minds off the physical activity and focuses them on social interactions.

Talk to yourself

Have a chat with your body and explain that although exercising isn't your bag, you're going to do it out of respect for your heart, lungs and muscles. Ask your body to help you out by operating effectively during workouts and continuing to support you while you work on getting fit. Discussion with your body is one way to increase your motivation: when you're in communication with your heart, you will tend to want to take better care of it.

Embroil others in your efforts

Smokers love to spend time smoking with other smokers: it lends them support in a world that's so unkind to them! Let your new exercise habit out of its cage: pay your children to take walks with you; exercise with your spouse, your best pal, the guy in the next cubicle at work. When you're thinking of hosting a social event, ask yourself, "How can I work some physical activity into this shindig?" Harass your friends into hikes in the woods, take everybody bowling or institute rule that says there will be 15 minutes of family dancing before dinner. There's something about leading a group of people into activity that increases your own motivation—and creates potential for new opportunities to exercise.

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