How to Keep on Track with New Year’s Resolutions: Exercise More

One of the biggest challenges with New Year’s resolutions is keeping them. A lot of people struggle with things they would like to change, like eating healthier, losing weight, exercising more, starting or sticking to a budget, breaking a bad habit, or learning a new skill. For many of us, the start of a new year marks the beginning of efforts toward making these significant changes, and adopting them permanently.

For those who want to exercise more, incorporating the changes it takes to accomplish this task can be tough in many ways, including financially. One of the questions that arises quite often is how to exercise more without spending a lot of money on gym memberships, exercise equipment, personal training sessions, and the like. You may also wonder how you can stick to your resolution to exercise more all year long, and not give up three months in. Truth be told, when it comes to resolutions, fully one third of people who make them actually break them before the end of January! Here is some advice from the experts on how to stay on track with your resolution to exercise more from day one:

1. Use the S.M.A.R.T. approach to your resolution. Make it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. Using this format for your goal helps you gain focus, stick to it, and see results. Setting broad, vague, goals can make people depressed, in part because progress is difficult if not impossible to measure.
2. Be kind to yourself, and make your goal manageable. If you want to exercise more, start out slowly. If you have never set foot inside a gym, never lifted weights, never ran a marathon, don’t try to skip to the end without building up your tolerance. Your body will be going through changes as you embark on your goal to exercise more, so take it easy and don’t punish your body by trying to make it do more than it is capable of in the beginning. Set short term goals, such as running for 15 minutes a day for the first week, or lifting a small amount of weight for a specific amount of repetitions for one week, and gradually increase the amount and/or time as you build strength and tolerance.
3. Set an exercise schedule. Make your fitness routine work for you. If you are not a morning person, the idea of waking up early to exercise may sabotage your efforts. Pick a time of day when you have energy, schedule a workout that you can handle, rinse, and repeat.
4. Don’t break the bank. If buying a gym membership is motivating to you, and if you have planned for it in your budget, then go for it. However, a gym membership may not be a necessary expense. There are other resources that can support you on your road to better health. If you live in an apartment complex, for instance, there may be an exercise room on the property that you can access at no charge. Check with the management office about access, hours, and rules. Many complexes also have Jacuzzis, dry saunas, or steam rooms available as well, for a little post-workout pampering.
5. Think outside the box when thinking about your goal. There are lots of interesting and free ways to work more exercise into your life without spending a lot of money to do so. Try fitting a little extra movement into your day by walking while you are on a phone call, parking farther away than you normally do when you go to the grocery store, or opting to take the stairs at the mall instead of an escalator. Drinking more water throughout the day will help you stay hydrated and also increase your steps by ensuring more trips to the bathroom.

Setting a New Year’s resolution to exercise more has many health benefits, but it can also save you money in the long run by reducing health expenses as your body adjusts to your new, healthier routine and your immune system gets stronger, making you less susceptible to common illnesses. Here’s to achieving your goals and saving money at the same time!