“As many as 80 percent of individuals who begin an exercise program don’t stick with it,” Russell said. “Within that, 50 to 60 percent will drop out within six months.”
To avoid becoming part of this statistic, Russell suggests to first start with an attainable goal. Russell said if running for 45 minutes sounds intimidating, start by running for 15 minutes and walking for 30, slowly adding more running time every few days.
After establishing a measurable goal, Russell said that constantly reminding yourself and other people about your goal holds you accountable; making it difficult to stop once you have begun.
“The more people who begin to ask you how your goal is coming, the more accountable you will be,” Russell said. “Maybe it’s a pride thing. You don’t want to say ‘I stopped doing that.’ What are you going to think of yourself?”
The American Psychological Association agrees with this idea stating that “with the right support” it is possible for people to attain their goals even if they feel stressed or lack willpower, emphasizing the importance of creating a support network for goals.
Along with keeping friends aware of goals, exercise must become a top priority among all other responsibilities. Russell said that people will never miss an appointment with their doctor or professor, but when it comes to making an appointment with his or her self, people do not view it as the same commitment.
“You are just as important as someone who you would set an appointment with,” Russell said. “Commit yourself to you.”
Planning to exercise is essential in establishing this commitment. Russell suggests talking to the instructor before a group class if registering for it online isn't enough to inspire commitment.
“Tell them, ‘I really struggle with coming. Can you hold me accountable?’” Russell said. “They will be more than happy to. There are individuals who have come to me and said, ‘I knew that if I didn't come to class that day, you would ask me why, and I would feel so bad.’ It’s not because you can’t hold that appointment with yourself, it’s because someone else is expecting you to be there.”
Russell suggests tracking progress through a food journal and taking self-pictures. She also recommends finding a picture of a person with a similar body structure and to emulate their figure. She does warn, however, that it takes six weeks for any fitness results to show, highlighting how important it is to monitor changes.
Robin Dowell, a freshman pre-nursing major, attended the event because she wants to eat healthier foods and to exercise more this year. Dowell finds it difficult to be healthy in college.
“Dining halls are buffet style, so it is easy to keep going up and getting more food when I think I'm still hungry,” Dowell said. “After the tips that were given in the presentation, I feel that I am going to be able to accomplish my goals through keeping journals and tracking my progress throughout the year.”
The next FEWS presentation is scheduled for Feb. 20 and is titled “Training your Core without the Crunch.” To sign up for a group fitness class or to find more resources, go to the USF Campus Recreation website.