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Exercise for Life!

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Steps 7 - 9

7. Do "mini" workouts

If you're strapped for time, keep your mind and body in the exercise groove by squeezing in just 10 to 15 minutes of activity. Do three such blocks a day and you up your chances of dropping unwanted pounds. Studies have found that people who participate in short bouts of exercise throughout the day accumulate more workout time per week than those who do a traditional 30- or 45-minute program, says Jakicic. "If you can't walk for an hour, get out there for as long as you can, even if it's just 15 minutes."

8. Schedule exercise appointments

Leave sticky notes on your computer or set an alarm to go off at your regular workout hour each day. "A habit starts when you do the same thing at the same time almost every day—no excuses," says Cotton. Once you've established a pattern, make that treadmill session as important as a meeting with the higher-ups. "The critical moment comes when you have a pile of papers waiting and deadlines looming but that alarm goes off and you head out the door," he says. Research at First Fitness has shown that morning exercisers may be slightly more successful than afternoon or evening participants because they're finished with exercise before distractions and fatigue hit. "But stick to the time that works best for you,"

9. Reward yourself

Research from the Cooper Institute shows that people who reward themselves are two to three times more likely to meet the ACSM's physical activity guidelines than people who don't treat themselves. "One woman in our Project Active study decided that she'd take herself on a walking vacation in Ireland if she kept at it for a year -- and she did," Dunn explains. Another participant bought herself new walking shoes after the first two months and new workout clothes at the end of six months. The reward structure can be as simple as allowing yourself to watch Friends only after you do 100 crunches. "Just decide what's important to you and link it to regular exercise," says Dunn.


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