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done, you’ve accomplished that.

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5 by Gretchen Rubin E

xercise is a key to happiness, as well as fitness, according to mounting research. Newsweek reports that people who exercise are healthier, more energetic, think more clearly, sleep bet- ter and have delayed onset of dementia. Studies by the Karolinska Institute, in Sweden, and California State University are among those that further show why exercise leads to relief from anxiety and mild depression. Researchers at Leeds Metropolitan University have also demonstrated that people who exercise perform better at work.

More, although it’s tempting to flop down on the couch when you’re feeling exhausted, exercise is actually a great way to boost energy levels, a conclusion supported by a metastudy conducted by the University of Georgia. They con-

34 Hudson County

cluded that feeling fatigued is a reason to exercise, not a reason to skip exercise. But even when you admit that you’d feel better if you exercised, it can be hard to adopt the habit. My idea of fun, for example, has always been to lie in bed reading, preferably while also eating a snack—but I’ve managed to keep myself exercising over the years by using these tricks on myself:

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Always exercise on Monday. This sets the psychological pattern for the


If at all possible, exercise first thing in the morning. As the day wears on, you’ll find more excuses to skip exercising. Get it checked off your list, first thing. It’s also a nice way to start the day; even if other things don’t get

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Never skip exercising for two days in a row. You can skip a day, but you must exercise on the next day, even if it seems to be inconvenient at that time.

Give yourself credit for the small- est effort. One man I know said that all he had to do was put on his running shoes and close the door behind him to get going. Many times, by promising myself I could quit 10 minutes after I’d started, I got myself to start—and then found that I didn’t want to quit, after all.

Think about context. Examine the factors that might be discouraging you from exercising. Perhaps you are distressed about the grubby showers in your gym or recoil from running if it’s cold outside. Try alternatives.

Exercise several times a week. If your idea of exercise is to join games of pick-up basketball, you should be playing practically every day. Twice a month isn’t enough.

Find a way to exercise that doesn’t always require you to shower

afterward. Each week, I really get into a challenging weight-training session, but it’s in a format that doesn’t make me sweat.


Look for affordable ways to make exercising more pleasant or satis-

fying. Could you upgrade to a nicer or more convenient gym, buy yourself a new iPod or pedometer, or work with a trainer? Exercise is a high life priority, so these are worthwhile ways to spend some money if they help get you moving.


Think of exercise as part of your es- sential preparation. It readies you for times when you want to be in especially fine form—whether in performance (to be sharp for an important presentation), appearance (to look good for a wedding or another formal occasion) or mood (to deal with a stressful situation).

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