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THE QUESTION

I really want to exercise, but I have trouble motivating myself. Do you have any tips?

THE ANSWER

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Make sure your exercise goals are realistic and sustainable. Aiming to complete an exercise program that is too demanding is counterproductive – intense, unrealistic goals are difficult to achieve, not to mention sustain. Plus, you're more likely to injure yourself. And failing to reach your goals only leads to more frustration and lack of motivation.

Instead, aim to move 30 minutes a day. I tell my clients to think of it as "drops in a bucket." The drops may not seem like they will make much of a difference, but they add up.

Find something you enjoy doing and start with that. If you enjoy gardening, check out other people's gardens as as you walk to and from work and then do your own gardening on the weekend. If you like playing a particular sport, join a team. If you want to be social, find a walking buddy.

Workouts might be more palatable if you can find activities that allow you to be outside, to spend time with friends and family, to have fun and get active all at the same time.

Finally, remember that something is always better then nothing. On days I don't want to exercise, I make myself run for 10 minutes. I tell myself that, if after 10 minutes I am still miserable, I can stop. Nine times out of 10, once I've started, I end up finishing the workout. On the days I stop at the 10-minute mark, I don't worry – it's still better than nothing.

TRAINER'S TIP

Some of my clients find it useful to have an "exercise calendar" on which they put gold stars on the days they complete their workouts. The stars are a great visual reminder of how many times you have exercised in a month. Once you get to your predetermined goal, give yourself a non-food-related "prize." Take yourself to the movies, get a pedicure or buy a new workout outfit.

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Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your fitness questions at trainer@globeandmail.com.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

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