Exercise Adherence Techniques

Achieve your goals

Set goals

  • Understand the real underlying objectives behind goals
    • If objectives can be achieved more effectively
      • Re-evaluate goal
  • Outcome goals
    • eg: reduce 5 pounds of fat or jump 1" higher
    • Set outcome goals so compatible behavioral goals can be set
    • Set short term and long term outcome goals
    • Test progress toward outcome goal regularly
      • Adjust behavioral goal based on progress of outcome goal
    • Minimize psychological focus on outcome goal
      • less real control
      • discouragement is likely if outcome goal is not achieved
  • Behavioral goals
    • Choose specific behavioral goals
      • Mode of exercise, frequency (days), duration (time), intensity
        • eg: weight training, 4 times per week (MTTF), 30 minutes (6:30 PM), 8-12 reps to volitional fatigue
      • Begin with small and very achievable goals
        • eg: Walk for 5 minute upon waking
        • It's more important to establish a routine than exercise with any significant duration or intensity
      • Plan on exercises at regular time
        • Consider exercising in the morning when there are fewer distractions
        • Some may find it more convenient to exercise in the evening after work
      • Plan on exercises every day so it becomes a habit
    • Have a back up plan
      • eg: exercise at 8:30 PM if 6:30 PM is not feasible
      • Understand potential obstacles from past experiences
      • Try not to use back up plan unless necessary
      • Walk, run stairs, or perform calisthenics when away from home
      • Forgive yourself if you drop out
        • Evaluate reasons for drop out
        • Adjust plan to prevent future drop outs
        • Recommit to new plan
    • More control of success than outcome goals
    • Plan ahead
      • Weekly or Monthly workout schedule
      • Pack workout bag night before
  • Set realistic goals
    • re-evaluate plan if you are not certain you can achieve behavioral goals

Choose ideal exercise program

  • Enjoyable activity
  • Develop a sense of mastery
  • Gradual, progressive changes
    • Start at lower intensity
    • Start at lower duration
  • Positive feedback
  • Individualized

Commit to goals

  • Share goals with those close to you
    • others that are likely to ask you about your progress
    • when you are weak, you know they know you should be exercising
    • minimize future personal conflict or misunderstandings
      • They understand the importance of your goal and the time you have set aside for it.
  • Write goals where they are in view everyday
    • refrigerator, mirror, date book, etc.
  • Establish a routine
    • Plan to exercise about the same time each day
      • Becomes a habit
    • Write workout times in your planner as you would an appointment
      • Set recurring alarms on your watch or PDA
    • Agree to exercise for 5 minutes if you should ever not feel like exercising
      • Most likely you will feel like exercising after getting ready and warmed up
  • Personal fitness contracts
    • sign with witness
      • fitness professional or peer

Take one step at a time

Monitor yourself

  • Activity and exercise diary or log
    • Activity throughout day
    • Exercise
      • Weight training, aerobics, stretching, plyometrics, recreational activities, sports
  • Electronic monitoring
    • Pedometer, heart rate monitor, stop watch
  • Regular fitness tests
  • Diet
    • Log
    • Exchange list check list
    • Computerized analysis

Use diversions

  • Television, music, book, magazine


  • Perform a variety of exercises and activities
    • Try new activity
      • purchase instructional book, take class, or ask help from friend
      • Take turns for one family member to choose a family activity every week
    • Change weight training workouts every month
  • Vary routes or trails
  • Exercise at the gym and at home
    • Home equipment
      • Purchase equipment that matches your preferences
      • Treadmills and strength training equipment is more likely to be used regularly
  • Utilitarian exercise
    • Walk to the store
    • Walk the dog
    • Yard work
    • Choose physical activities for family time, date, or social function

Social Support

  • Peer or family support
  • Training partner
  • Mentor or others in focus group
  • Friendly competition
  • Social contact
    • Class setting
      • Group or around other people
    • Telephone contact, mailing, computer based

Prepare for special activity

  • Adventure vacation
  • Competition
  • Work or insurance incentive programs
    • external incentive (extrinsic) needs to transfer to internal satisfaction (intrinsic)

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