We’re now just over a week into 2010, and the fitness centres are overflowing with people paying homage to their New Year’s resolutions. It is interesting to watch the pattern that repeats itself year after year: by next week, crowds at the gym will start to noticeably diminish, and by the beginning of February, they will be back near baseline levels.

So how can you keep the motivation up, the interest peaked, and the energy levels high? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Vary your workouts. Engaging in a variety of activities gives you something different to look forward to each day. Pick 3 different activies and repeat each one twice a week, for a total of 6 exercise days a week. Each month, switch up one or two of these activities to keep things varied.

2. Embrace the great outdoors! There is nothing like grunging it out at the gym each day to make a person sick of the exercise routine. Find some activities outside to enjoy! Even in the depths of winter, there are many activities to choose from: ice skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing are a few examples.

3. Distract yourself. Music is a great way to distract yourself from the workout at hand – it makes the time go faster! Find some upbeat music that you enjoy to listen to while you exercise. Television is another great option – if you work out at home, put on a good movie to watch while you’re on your cross trainer. Reading is a good option as well, for example, while on an exercise bike.

If you do choose to read or watch TV, make sure you are not distracted to the point that you are unintentionally slowing your pace. You can do this by wearing a pulse watch to ensure you maintain your heart rate, or by exercising to the beat of the music you are listening to. Also, check yourself every few minutes to make sure that your technique is not suffering because you are thinking about something else. Improper technique can lead to injury!

4. Engage your brain! A workout that makes you think is the ultimate way to make the time whizz by in a flash. Dancing, yoga, pilates, and aerobics are all examples of these types of activities.

5. Exercise with a friend! It’s always more fun to burn calories with company to talk, laugh with, and mutually motivate. Be clear with yourself, however, that you will work out regardless of whether an exercise companion cancels on you or not. Don’t allow your exercise routine to become dependent on the presence of another – consider it a bonus instead!

With these tips, it is my hope that any New Year’s resolutionists out there will feel empowered to overcome the typical ebb and flow of motivation to exercise, and will be able to stick with it and shed the excess pounds! Remember to talk to your doctor to plan an exercise regime that is safe for you.

And on a final note, here’s a little bit of (unitended, I think) New Year’s humor for you. This is the Canadian Tire New Year’s ad that came out this week. I’m not sure that the ad for the pantry storage unit is in keeping with the theme of getting fit with home exercise equipment in the New Year!

Dr. Sue © 2009 www.drsue.ca drsuetalks@gmail.com