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For months you were committed to exercise. You got up early before the kids, went for an early morning jog, and felt great all day.

vowsYou even lost a few pounds. Then, something happened to throw you off track. Maybe it was an illness, an injury, a new work schedule, or summer vacation.

You know you should get back into your former workout routine, but haven’t made the move. What’s holding you back?

Here are a few suggestions to help renew your commitment to exercise.

First: Set Goals

To get back into exercise, your personal trainer can help you set personal fitness goals. Having a reasonable goal to work toward is great motivation to stick with your exercise program. Perhaps you want to lose 10 pounds or train for a 5K. Or maybe you just want to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling short of breath. Whatever your goal, write it down and post it in a place you’ll see it daily to remind you.

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Second: Make a Plan

You’ve got your goal in mind and it’s time to make it a reality. Discuss with your trainer the best way to achieve your goal. Decide what time of day you’ll exercise, how long you’ll work out, and what type of activities will you do. Set aside time on your calendar each day to make exercise a priority.

Third: Consult Your Doctor

If it’s been years since you’ve put on your workout shoes, you’re obese, or have a chronic health condition like diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease, be smart and make an appointment with your doctor before getting back into exercise. Depending on your health status, your doctor will give the green light and offer advice on the safest way to reach your goals.

Fourth: Start Slowly

Just because you were able to run three miles last year doesn’t mean you can run that far today. Give your body time to adjust to exercise or you’ll end up sore, injured, or burnt out. The first couple of days, focus on flexibility workouts to get your muscles warmed up. Then slowly add in light cardio and strength training exercises. Each week push yourself to go a little farther or a little longer. Your trainer is there to guide you along this path. And be patient. It may take up to six weeks to be back at the fitness level where you left off.

Fifth: Challenge Yourself

They say it takes 21 days for a new behavior to become a habit. So as you start back into exercise, commit to a 30-minute workout every other day for three weeks and see where it leaves you. After this challenge, you’ll likely be back for the long run. When exercise is a routine part of your routine, it’s a lot harder to break the habit down the road.

Sixth: Find a Buddy

Having an accountability partner is a great way to get back into exercise. Your personal trainer can help keep you accountable, but unless you meet with your trainer every day, you may feel tempted to skip your workout. Ask a friend to exercise with you on the days you’re on your own. A workout buddy can keep you motivated to reach your goals and make exercise more enjoyable.

Seventh: Do What’s Fun

You’ll be more likely to recommit to exercise if you enjoy it. Some people like to run, others hate it. Some people like the gym atmosphere, others fear working out in front of others. The key is to find a workout you look forward to doing. Tennis with your spouse, reading a book on the stationary bike, hiking in the great outdoors—whatever it might be, make it a habit and you’ll reap the rewards.

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