‘No Sweat’ — How Do We Stick to a Fitness Program?

Exploring Intensity

‘No Sweat’ — How Do We Stick to a Fitness Program?

Much of our summer beach reading included fitness books. And we started off with No Sweat – How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar.

At Cardio High we have clients who love to exercise no matter what form that takes, and we have clients who have a very hard time getting excited about exercise or working out. The Cardio High staff like working out, so when some clients tell us they’d rather be home channel surfing on their comfy couch, we look at them with the confused dog look – as if they are speaking a foreign language. No Sweat is the perfect guide to understanding how to relate to, and motivate those, who would rather skip out on exercise. These are the main points that we took away from our No Sweat read (*);

1. Many people start exercise programs to alter their body shape and to lose weight, and most of these people fail to stick to a steady exercise program. Studies show it is better to focus on more immediate rewards from exercise; better mood, increased energy, connection with other people, fun.

2. A key to success is finding ways of moving that are enjoyable to you. Focus on exercise that feels good.

3. Move more often. Everything counts; Walking around while you talk on the phone, gardening, riding a bike, taking a stroll. Strap on your Polar monitor and do a rapid high-intensity house clean to see your calorie burn.

4. Make taking care of yourself a priority. If you carve out time for yourself, you will be better able to care for others. Dr. Segar suggests making movement a primary key to better self care.

5. Add behavioral changes gradually. There is an argument for shocking the system; big change in diet + daily exercise will alter the way you feel quickly,  and you will want to maintain that feeling. But most people fall off the wagon because it’s hard to maintain a strict diet and daily exercise. If you add simple changes that become part of who you are, you are more likely to maintain those new behaviors for the rest of your life.

So how do we apply the lessons of No Sweat to Cardio High?

1. We focus on making the workouts enjoyable. We altered the way we coach intervals this summer. We asked clients to do longer intervals (1 to 2 minutes) at less than max speed. The goal? Try to find a level that’s intense and that feels good to you. We always keep the shorter intervals in the program because many studies show that people are more likely to stick to an exercise program that consists of very brief (10-30 second) all-out efforts vs steady state exercise. We also constantly seek movements that feel good. And, yes, we know that some, like mountain climbers, do not feel good to most people.

2. We speak to clients about the importance of noticing the immediate rewards from a workout: better mood, increased energy and the fun of being together in a positive environment.

(*) No Sweat makes many more points than we have highlighted. This brief summary is not meant to capture the entire book in a couple of sentences.