USDA Dietary Guidelines: Easy Ways to Start Exercising

Maintaining Your Workout Schedule

Being more active is one-half of your weight-loss plan. That makes it important enough to put on your calendar. An appointment with yourself is just as important as an appointment you would keep with someone else. Don't cancel on yourself. Try not to reschedule. If weight loss is a priority for you, then activity dates become a priority, too. Consistency is vital to getting results from your activity. Being active two days this week and one day next week is good, but it won't peel away the pounds. To see results, you must consistently be active. Gradually work up to being active for 30, 60, or 90 minutes a day -- whatever your goal is -- on most days of the week. Scheduling activity time is a good way to be consistent. Write your activity times on your calendar, and protect them from other obligations.

There are other ways to ensure you keep your workout schedule:

  • Allow yourself flexibility with your routine. You don't have to be active at the same time every day, unless that works best for you. You might aim for being active before work on several days of the week and after work on the remaining days.
  • Line up options. What happens if the weather is bad or the kids are home sick? Set up an alternate plan, such as doing an aerobics or martial arts video, or dancing to music. You can also go to your local mall and walk several laps. Many malls open early to accommodate mall walkers, and weekday evenings are usually another good, uncrowded time to walk. Think ahead now, so that when something unexpected happens, you'll be ready and able to stay on track.
  • Vary your activities so that you stay interested. A variety of activities will also use and tone different muscles.
  • Set aside one hour each non-workday to take care of things around the yard or house. You burn calories and the chores get done -- what a deal!
  • Check out your local Parks and Recreation department. They typically offer community classes in everything from dancing and yoga to aerobics, swimming, and team sports. Community colleges, too, often offer noncredit courses that will introduce you to new activities.
  • Walk your kids to school instead of driving them. Do the same to pick them up. If time is a concern, choose one of the two.
  • Join a walking club such as the American Volkssport Association -- this non-competitive club conducts walks you do at your own pace in all 50 states. Find a Volkssport group in your area at
  • *Host a "potluck" of activity equipment. Rather than food, have everyone bring a game that requires physical activity. There will be a smorgasbord of games -- maybe lawn darts, badminton, croquette, hula hoops, balls, and pogo sticks.

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