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How to develop the habit of exercise

One benefit – good spine health

Everyone knows that exercise is good for you. There are many benefits including:

  • Weight control

  • Mood improvement

  • Risk reduction for

    • Heart disease

    • Diabetes

    • Cancer

Even with all these benefits, the urge to get off the couch and do something is just not there for many of us. In my experience, it's not rare for a lot of people start an exercise program only to fall back into inactivity after about 6 weeks. These people fail to develop a habit for exercise which keeps you active through all sorts of weather and moods.

An addiction that is positive

Working out triggers production of dopamine, a pleasure-giving neurotransmitter and the brain comes to crave this reward. As a result, people who work out continually develop an addiction to exercise. For those people, exercise is no longer a chore or obligation - it is a pleasurable habit.

How does a person get to that point? You need to change your attitude. The key is finding a way to enjoy your workouts. If you dread exercise you will reinforce that notion with expectations of boredom or pain. Instead, anticipate pleasure and you will find it.

Reward system

  1. A good way to train yourself to become used to habitual exercise is to enhance your brain’s natural reinforcement system with external rewards. During your workouts, imagine the cold drink you will treat yourself to after it is over or promise yourself something tasty and healthy to eat.

  2. Set up a system of short-term rewards for meeting your goals. If you have consistently walked 30 minutes a day all week, treat yourself with a good book or movie or an afternoon off from work.

  3. To maintain your interest and boost your fitness, continually revise your goals upward. Record your progress in an exercise journal and review it often to remind yourself just how far you have come.

Exercise success secrets

  1. Exercise with a buddy – working out with someone else is more pleasurable for some people than exercising by yourself, also it can keep you accountable. You can motivate each other, and it becomes a social occasion.

  2. Combine exercise with another activity – if you are on the bike or treadmill listen to a self-help or pleasurable book on tape.

  3. Include several different kinds of exercise – walk one day, swim the next, lift weights the next. Cross-training is great for you to work different muscles which also prevents overtraining and boredom.

Almost any kind of movement helps your spine. As you are bending, twisting, or tilting you are working the muscles around vertebrae and keeping your back healthy. Practically anything is better than being sedentary when it comes to spine health.


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