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Commitment to healthy living is key to achieving exercise goals

By Reggie Palma

LAST UPDATED: 2:11 a.m. HST, Aug 17, 2010

Turn on the television and scroll through the channels, and eventually you will come across an infomercial replete with sweaty people moving vigorously and posing with an oversize pair of pants they used to fit.

How do you know which one actually works? The truth is most do, with one caveat: They work only if you do it.

The challenge is not finding which exercise system works; it's finding which system works for you. Which one matches your personality, requiring little effort to maintain? Which one is just plain fun? We all go through a natural ebb and flow of energy that can leave us motivated one day, sluggish and bonbon-craving the next. How you handle these cycles is what determines the difference between long-term adherence or a closet full of failed workout systems and gadgets.


» Be realistic. The most effective workout system with the coolest toys is nothing but dross if you are not conditioned enough to do it.

» Keep a long-term perspective. Being healthy is a lifelong pursuit. Celebrate the days you feel great and realize that for every bad day there is a good one around the corner. Remember, there are no quick fixes, and any company guaranteeing fast results deserves scrutiny. If weight loss does happen quickly, permanence is unlikely.

» Have a plan. Take advantage of high-energy days and step up your workouts. Increase the incline on the treadmill, speed the Stairmaster up one or two levels, take an extra lap around the park. On the days when work just leaves you drained, go for a long easy walk around the neighborhood. Take deep breaths and use this time to unwind and reflect. Studies show it is exactly this type of activity that helps clear away the damaging chemicals of stress. In both cases your body benefits from the constant physical activity you are giving it.

Remember, consistency is paramount. Do not let a day go by without a little sweat, because a little will go a long way toward good health.

Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer. He has a fourth-degree black belt in the Filipino martial art kali.

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