The road to fitness is paved with good intentions — but sometimes it’s hard to know how to take the first steps.

Once you join a gym, how do you keep the flame alive with regular workouts? Getting into a routine, finding the fun and also partnering up with others really amps up your success rate.

Use these simple tips from Mladen Golubic MD, PhD, to get your exercise or fitness routine moving and keep it there, in full gear.

1. Treat it as couples therapy

Working out with your spouse or significant other gives you a support system — and a healthy dose of accountability. In addition to making certain workouts more fun, having a spouse along means you can encourage each other when you hit a wall. If you aren’t in a couple, bring a buddy. Find age-specific exercise tips for couples.

2. Use easy DIY options

Too often, the cost of a gym membership or exercise equipment is a barrier to fitness. If that applies to you, you can get started with inexpensive options. If you want to walk, all you need is walking or running shoes. And jump ropes, dumbbells, exercise balls and exercise videos provide relatively inexpensive options for at-home exercise. Check out 6 inexpensive ways to get in shape.

3. Seek a personal trainer

It may sound daunting, but working with a personal trainer provides both expertise and motivation that you can’t find on your own. Be sure to find a trainer who works at the right level, though. If you’re a beginner, you don’t need to work with someone who trains pro athletes. Ask for references, and find out what types of clients a trainer typically has so you can find the right match. Get more tips for choosing a personal trainer.

4. Get wet

The pool — outdoor or indoor — is good for more than just swimming laps. Water-based exercise can be especially good for people who are overweight or have back pain or arthritis. It works because water offers 12 times the resistance of air to tone and strengthen muscles. You’ll burn 400 to 500 calories per hour. Learn more about the benefits of water-based exercise.

5. Use apps and trackers honestly

From wearable technology to apps on your smartphone, there’s a world of gadgets and software designed to help you track your fitness. All can help with accountability — but you have to start by being honest with the data you feed them about weight, daily food intake, daily exercise and other variables. Data tracking is only as good as the accuracy of the data itself. How to get the most out of fitness trackers.

To increase your fitness level and keep it there, remember that progress is perfection. Start with ten extra minutes of exercise, and before you know it, you’ll be working out for 30 minutes a day, as the American College of Sports Medicine recommends.


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