6 Steps to Creating a Sustainable Exercise Plan

January 23, 2023

Valerie Cacho MD

With each new year, more attention is paid to creating better health habits, especially in the physical fitness department. According to a new Forbes Health survey, 39% of people have physical fitness as their top new year’s resolution. As people strive to meet their new year’s exercise goals, gyms and workout studios are getting more and more packed; however, a 2020 New Plate/Ispsos survey points out that only 19% are still committed to their goal after the one-month mark.

To help improve your chances of sticking to your 2023 fitness goals, keep reading to learn how to create a sustainable exercise plan — all it takes is six easy steps! 

1. Create a SMART GOAL       

If having a consistent exercise routine is one of your new year’s resolutions, there’s probably a goal behind it whether it’s to lose weight, gain muscle, or improve flexibility. Creating a SMART goal can help you outline the reason behind your resolution. SMART is an acronym for a set of statements that can help you gain your desired result. It stands for:

S= specific

M= measurable

A= achievable

R= relevant 

T= time bound

· Define a specific goal. What do you want to accomplish and how will you do it?   

· How will you measure your goal? 

· Do you believe that the goal is achievable? Do you have the skills and resources to meet your goal?

· Is your goal relevant with your larger goals? Why is the result important? 

· How long are you giving yourself to meet this goal?

A SMART exercise example:

My goal for the next 30 days is to walk for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. I’ll use my fitness tracker to measure this goal. I believe this goal is achievable because I enjoy walking and I just bought new walking shoes that are extra comfortable. This goal is important to me because I want to go on a hiking trip with some friends in the summer and my current level of fitness isn’t where it needs to be for that trip. 

2. Pick an enjoyable exercise

The easiest exercise is the one you have the most fun doing! Choosing a form of movement that brings you joy and is something you look forward to doing will make it easier for you to show up and actually do it on a regular basis.

3. Reduce and eliminate any barriers

Another way to help you stay consistent with your exercise plan is to keep it simple. If you need to drive 20 minutes to the yoga studio across town, and then spend another 10 minutes circling to find parking, you’ll be less likely to attend it regularly. Why not hit play on one of the millions of YouTube yoga classes, my go to is Yoga With Adriene who has a variety of options for all fitness levels. Another way to reduce barriers to creating a sustainable exercise plan would be to find a yoga studio close to work or near your kid’s school so it isn’t too much out the way. 

4. Find an accountability partner

Research shows having a workout buddy increases the likelihood that you’ll stick with the exercise. Additionally, working out with a friend may also improve your self-esteem and your social skills. If you recently moved to a new area, check out meetup.com to find a friend or group with similar interests to help you keep up with your fitness goals.

5. Be flexible

If the exercise you start out with is new or more intense than your baseline activity level, it may take some getting used to. This is totally normal, you may also feel some pain or discomfort from using different muscle groups. It can also be tricky getting into a set workout regime if it’s someone you aren’t used to planning around. Be flexible and know that you’ll find your rhythm.  

6. Rest and recovery are important

Listen to your body and know when to hit the pause button on your exercise plan. Taking a day (or two off) won’t derail you and it’s necessary to allow your body time to rest and recover. Doing what is best for you and your body in the long run is more important than excessively pushing yourself in the short term.  

By following this sustainable exercise plan, you’ll be able to start and maintain your fitness goals with more ease and intention. With consistency, your exercise plan can turn into a habit where it becomes a regular staple of your day — and one that you actually enjoy doing!

For more information about women’s sleep health and wellness check out www.sleephoria.com. We have a free webinar about Sleep Myths on Sunday, January 29, 2023. Sign up to be a Sleephoria Insider to stay up to date on all our events. By signing up you’ll also receive our free guide to sleep and perimenopause.

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