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Secrets to sticking with a workout plan

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With all you have to do each day, fitting in exercise may seem like just one more chore -- and an unpleasant one, at that. Still, you know the benefits of regular exercise, and you'd really like to stick with it. Here are a few suggestions for creating a workout plan you'll love.

1Start where you are.

If you're a beginner, start slow and easy. Don't jump from no activity to hours of intense work. Just get moving! Do something physical most days of the week, even if it's as simple as vigorous yard work or housecleaning. 

2Make it fun.

Who says exercise has to involve a treadmill and a heavy dose of willpower?  Remember when you were a kid riding your bike for fun? You didn't think about getting in your cardio — you just played. Try that approach again: skate, bike, swim, take a dance class, try karate. Look for active ways to have fun. Is there a sport or activity you've always longed to try? Do it! When you make it fun, you'll look forward to working out.

3Change it up.

If you're a gym rat, go for walk. If you always walk, swim at the local pool. Try a boot camp, TRX Suspension Training, yoga or Pilates. Invest in some sessions with a personal trainer. Don't let boredom keep you on the couch.

4Suit yourself.

Do you like to exercise with a group, or do you prefer going solo? Do you love fitness gadgets? Are you a morning person or a night owl? Tailor your exercise to your personality, and you'll stand a better chance of sticking with it.

5Know your reasons.

Why do you exercise? To fit into your skinny jeans? To train for an event? To improve your health and fitness levels? When you're tempted to skip, sometimes remembering your reasons for working out will keep you going.

6Set goals & reward yourself.

Whether you increase the weight you can lift, add a day of workouts, or try a new activity, make sure you reward your efforts. Pamper yourself with a massage, manicure or pedicure; take an afternoon off to do just what you like; or buy those cute shoes you've been eyeing.

7Do it for love.

Work out because you love yourself, not to punish yourself for perceived failures. Focus on getting — and staying — strong, fit, and flexible so you'll be able to do all you want to do in the future.