Warfit should be Lifefit

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Warfit isn't just for passing a physical fitness test or staying in shape for deployment. There are many benefits to regular exercise that we've all heard for many years. It reduces stress, helps with weight loss, and improves overall health. We all know exercise is good for us, but sometimes it can be difficult to stay committed to a regular workout regime. Here are 12 tips that help me regularly work out and enjoy it...hopefully, they'll help you as well.

1. Be habitual--try to work out at the same time every day. More and more I find that if I don't work out in the morning I won't. I work to get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends so I have time get a run in. Unfortunately for me, if I don't work out in the morning, I let the important things of the day preempt exercise. If you can make time everyday at lunch, or in the afternoon go for it. I just find that exercising at the same time each day helps me stay committed.

2. Set yourself up to succeed--choose an exercise you enjoy or want to learn to enjoy, make it hard not to exercise, wear your running shorts to bed to make it easy to run in the morning. Put an extra pair of work-out clothes and shoes in your vehicle and always take your workout clothes with you when you travel. You never know when a meeting may end early or start late and you can explore a new fitness center or running trails.

3. Let yourself become addicted--I admit it, I'm addicted to running (so of course I'd say it's ok to become addicted). As long as the addiction doesn't lead to overtraining and injury, you're ok. Remember; pain is our friend, injury the enemy. If you start getting aches and pains, be careful not to let them lead to injury...when in doubt, seek medical attention.

4. Buy good gear, shoes and clothes and change out your running shoes every 6 months. It also makes it easier to get outside in the wind, cold or rainy weather if you have the right gear to keep you comfortable. If you have trouble finding shoes you like, there are several running stores that specialize in gait analysis (try www.ghsports.com) and will watch you walk on a treadmill to help you figure out the best kinds of shoes for you. Don't ever let not having the right gear keep you from exercise.

5. Find a like-minded workout partner--I have several friends who are just as addicted to running as I am. Let them "enable" you on those days when you don't feel like hitting the gym or the road. Working out with a friend not only helps you stay motivated, it will also increase your pace and push you to work harder. Spending time talking with a friend also makes the time go by faster, especially when you're struggling through your workout.

6. Don't get stressed out while trying to work out to reduce stress--one of the great benefits of regular exercise is that it reduces stress. So...don't get stressed out about exercise! If you miss a day here and there, don't beat yourself up. You have to start each day new and work to develop regular exercise as a life habit. If a demanding schedule or poor health prevents you from exercising, you have to learn to deal with it and move on. You don't have to like it, but being stressed about it, won't help.

7. Be patient--if you don't see results in the first week or so don't give up. Some people respond very quickly and see results right away, others take longer. If you regularly exercise and follow good counsel, you will see results...just be patient and keep a positive outlook.

8. Get expert advice sooner rather than later--the Health and Wellness Center (606-2221) is perfectly equipped to provide tailored workout plans and advice. They have fitness classes, nutrition classes and even stress management classes. Take advantage of this tremendous resource to help you develop a healthy workout plan.

9. Choose mind over matter--decide in advance that you love hills, love the wind, and love working out in the rain or snow. Whatever the obstacle to your exercise plan, decide to use it to your advantage. Hills help you develop speed and endurance, the wind cools you down when it's hot and pushes you to help you run faster when it's behind you. 80% of sticking to your plan is mental, so use your mind to your advantage.

10. Explore, expand, enjoy--it's easy to get stuck in a rut of running the same route, riding the same stationary bike, or gliding on the same elliptical trainer. Change things up to keep yourself motivated, to avoid injury and improve performance. Our bodies quickly learn to adapt and become efficient at whatever exercise we focus on. So, choose a different route, try interval training, search the internet for new running trails. The more you spice it up, the more likely you'll stay on track and see results.

11. Keep track--Check out a pedometer from the fitness center or use a log. I recently purchased a GPS receiver that keeps track of my miles and pace. It's done more to keep me motivated to run than anything else I've tried. Since it interfaces via USB to my computer, I can download my route and distance...I can even really geek out and plot my route directly into Google Earth. I especially enjoy looking at the routes I run when I travel. Keeping track of the miles I run keeps me motivated and helps me know if I'm meeting my goals.

12. Finally...set tough but achievable goals--I have very simple workout goals, score 100 on our fitness test and run 30 miles per week. I also set endurance type goals like climbing Mt. Whitney to keep me motivated. This last July several friends and I hiked Mt. Whitney from the trailhead, 11 miles one way. Countless times through the spring and early summer I found myself seeking hills to run and extending my runs because I knew I'd need the extra endurance during the hike.

Staying fit can become part of anyone's lifestyle. Hopefully these tips will help you as they've helped me develop a regular exercise plan and stick to it. Our regular exercise shouldn't just be for warfit, we all need it to be lifefit.