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How to Start a Workout Routine You’ll Stick With

Starting a new workout routine can feel intimidating and impossible — but it doesn’t have to.

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Whether life events have sidelined you from a steady workout routine or you’ve never worked out regularly before, starting up a fitness regimen is tough. Still, there are a few things you can do to help make it a little bit easier.

1. Start small. Even if you were a cross-country pro on your high-school track team, if it’s been a while since you pounded the pavement, start small. Set realistic goals for yourself in the beginning; you’ll be motivated to keep going when you meet them, and you’ll be less likely to injure yourself as you gear up for harder workouts in the future. Try downloading a 5K training app, which can help novice runners ease their way in.

2. Grab a buddy. Everything’s better with a friend, including working out. There’s the added entertainment, sure, but it’ll also make you more likely to stick with your routine since someone is counting on you (and constantly reminding you) to keep going.

3. Set goals. Your first goal? Getting started (see no.1). Then, continue to set new goals for yourself, whether it’s related to weight loss, tied to a distance you want to reach, or attached to a number of crunches you want to be able to pound out. Setting a goal for your workout routines will help you track your progress, and having your next goal queued up will help motivate you to keep going once you reach one.

4. Go easy on yourself. While you know that you’ll see the best results with your exercise when you follow through with a consistent routine, it’s human nature to miss out on a couple of workouts here and there. Don’t let one missed or bad workout get you down. Move past it and try again tomorrow.

5. Take the time to cool down and rest. A little muscle fatigue and soreness is likely when starting a workout routine after a break from exercise. Take a few minutes to cool down and stretch after a workout, and make sure to rest your muscle groups; if you went running yesterday, train your arms today.

6.  Schedule in exercise the way you would any appointment. It’s easy to skip the gym if you don’t have a solid plan to get there. Each week, look at your calendar and schedule in which days and times you’re going to work out. Plan the rest of your week around those and treat them the way you would date night — something you only reschedule if absolutely necessary.