A number of friends have had a lot of trouble setting up a meaningful exercise routine. This is partly because of the focus on joining a gym and going every day. While there are many people who can do this, most people need a different strategy.
Attribution: Pixabay - SimonaR
Make it fun
Most people see exercise as a chore while those who exercise regularly love it. If running, swimming or going to the gym is boring for you, look around and find something that you do like.
Attribution: Flickr - Howard Lake
Now oddly enough I love swimming. Just jumping in the pool and floating is something that I love. Otherwise I have to do something where I am going somewhere and doing something, such as hiking. In fact having a fun exercise that I plan to do helps motivate me to do the boring stuff to build up to the fun activity.
Variety is the spice of life
On a good week I will swim a few times, hike on the weekend, cycle somewhere, play a game of social tennis and maybe even do a few push-ups at home. By mixing things up, not only do I get a more varied workout but I don't get bored.
Attribution: Flickr - CrossFitFever
One of my favourite exercise activities is to play tennis. I can be running around for 1 or 2 hours but don't feel like I am exercising because my focus is on winning points, games and sets (or at least not losing too badly).
Attribution: Tulane Public Relations
I am not that competitive but, even mild competition will push you to work harder.
Make it social
Have you heard the joke about cross fit. Cross fit is like a reverse Fight Club, the first 2 rules of cross fit is that you don't stop talking about cross fit. The reason behind this is very simple, cross fit is a social exercise where you are both cooperating and competing with people with a variety of exercises.
Attribution: Flickr - Christine Boose
Having an exercise partner or joining some sort of social sport group will make the whole process more enjoyable. I like hiking for example because of its social nature.
Another way to help motivate yourself to exercise is to have a goal. Maybe you are planning a long hike, want to compete in a marathon or have a dress you want to fit in. It doesn't really matter what you goal is, the main point is to have something to focus your efforts.
Attribution: Flickr - Philo Nordlund
Quick and dirty
You crawl out of bed late, you forget to iron clothes for work today and you are running late. Time for a quick and dirty exercise routine.
In fact there is a lot of evidence in favour of short intense exercise. If you have a routine that only takes ten minutes then you don't really have an excuse to skip exercise.
Have a fallback
I like to exercise outdoors, with hiking, swimming, tennis and cycling. This was great until it rained every day I set aside to exercise for more than a month. I quickly became very unfit.
The best thing is to have some sort of fallback. Maybe it is that gym membership or an exercise bike or YouTube clip. Even if the fall back is not as good as your primary forms of exercise it still keeps you in shape.
Measure your fitness
Part of the joy of exercising is the feeling of becoming fitter. Read here about how to measure your fitness