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7 Habits of Highly Effective Exercisers

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Day after day, working out can feel like a drill. Yet fitness devotees somehow muster the motivation to get exercise regularly. Steal their tricks and (almost) never miss a workout again.

Get Motivated, Stay Motivated

Five or six days every week, Sue Wolcott, 41, hits the treadmill in her basement. It's a habit that started after she named her exercise machine Ripley. "It's as in 'Believe it or not, I'm working out,'" says Sue, a teacher in Grand Island, New York. "I would never skip out on meeting a friend, so I decided to treat my treadmill like a person." It's become, ahem, a running joke in her set; one pal now refers to her own treadmill as Dusty. "It's just us being silly, but when I'm asked if I've seen Ripley, I really love answering yes," Sue says.

Despite what you may think, the trick to exercising regularly isn't finding your inner enforcer. Rather, "it's getting creative and tapping your natural motivations," says Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a health psychologist and fitness instructor at Stanford. We asked women who work up a sweat almost every day for their stick-with-it solutions. Check out our seven fail-proof favorites.

1. Don't put away your gear.

From the moment she rises, Kristina Monét Cox, 26, has exercise on the brain. That's because the first things she sees are her sneakers and workout clothes. "I've got them next to the bed in plain sight," says Kristina, the CEO of a communications firm in Houston. "I've also got dumbbells right where I can see them in the bathroom, and a balance ball, a yoga mat, and a jump rope strategically placed throughout the house." Forgetting to exercise is never her problem.

Why it works: Visual cues are a wake-up call to your brain. "We all have competing priorities like work, family, chores. Sometimes we need a reminder to keep exercise at the forefront," McGonigal says.

Do it yourself: If you don't have the space to display your gear (or if it'll mess with your decor), choose just one or two prime locations that you'll never miss. Better yet, "pick places where you spend a lot of time and can use the equipment, like by the TV or the phone," says Amanda Visek, PhD, assistant professor of sport and exercise psychology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

2. Turn your commute into a workout.

On days that Monica Vazquez, 27, a master trainer for New York Sports Clubs in New York City, can't do her usual run, she stuffs her essentials -- keys, cash, credit card, phone and ID -- into a fanny pack and jogs home from work instead. "Running is a great workout, but it's also great transportation," she says. "Sometimes I get home even earlier than I normally do taking the subway."

Why it works: Running, walking, or biking somewhere you have to go anyway makes exercise feel time-efficient. "And you don't have to carve out another part of your day for it," says Michelle Fortier, PhD, professor of health sciences at the University of Ottawa. "It's an effective strategy for people who are busy from morning to night."

Do it yourself: Your logistics may be a bit more complex if you drive to work or don't have good public transportation at your disposal. Maybe you can carpool in the morning or park your car a mile from the office and speed walk the distance to and from your job. If you don't have a safe place at work to stash your stuff, invest in a lightweight backpack with waist and chest straps (we like Patagonia's Pocket Pack; $69, patagonia.com) or swap your purse for a fanny pack on days that you plan to run home.

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odunie wrote:

Check out this great article written by someone who lost 30-40 pounds on how motivating joining a half marathon can be and about balancing fitness into our busy lives on BEAUTEologie - http://beauteologie.com/2013/11/02/motivation-to-sprint-and-look-mint/

11/2/2013 07:36:29 PM Report Abuse
jogoesgufi wrote:

Add "Do something fun for exercise" to this list. People think exercise means going to the gym and being a hamster on a wheel. I hear lots of people say they want to work out but they hate the gym so people need to be willing to explore other exercises that they might actually look forward to versus dragging themselves to what they conceive as torture. Great list!

8/29/2012 11:40:06 AM Report Abuse
SpecialOccasionCoordinator.0208 wrote:

Very effective tricks to help me also stay on track with my exercise routine. Im excited to start staying motivated!

7/7/2012 09:47:57 AM Report Abuse
aneeshasood wrote:

creative and very real stuff, great ideas, thanks

5/7/2012 10:15:19 PM Report Abuse
patfazio wrote:

Great ideas, they have inspired me put my workout tools in plain site.

3/24/2012 08:40:50 AM Report Abuse

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