Frequency, Intensity, modality or types of exercise, all of these are important factors of an exercise program, but they are not the most important. So what is? Consistency! No matter how good a plan is, if it is not implemented then it is not beneficial. In order to get the most out of an exercise routine, it must be sustainable enough to do it on a consistent basis. Okay so your next question is, what is considered a consistent basis?

To answer this question, I will need to clarify what the standard recommendations are according to American Collage of Sports Medicine.

Cardiovascular Exercise

  • Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).
  • One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.

Resistance Exercise

  • Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
  • Very light or light intensity is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting exercise.
  • Two to four sets of each exercise will help adults improve strength and power.
  • For each exercise, 8-12 repetitions improve strength and power, 10-15 repetitions improve strength in middle age and older persons starting exercise, and 15-20 repetitions improve muscular endurance.
  • Adults should wait at least 48 hours between resistance training sessions.

Flexibility Exercise

  • Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.
  • Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.
  • Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.

Neuromata Exercise

  • Neuromotor exercise (sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week.
  • Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities (tai ji and yoga) to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.
  • 20-30 minutes per day is appropriate for neuromotor exercise.

I know you are looking at this list and thinking to yourself, “there is no way I could consistently do all that” and that is the case for most people, so here is how you develop consistency. Start with one thing, yes, only one! Start with the one thing that will be the easiest to establish. If you can start take a 20min walk on your hour lunch break and do that 3 days a week that is a great start. Do this consistently for one month and then consider adding in one more 20min walk in during the week or the weekend. Once that action becomes a habit then you can once again add on to your program, but if that is all you can do for now, then do that and be proud of yourself for this healthy behavior you have established!

Most exercise programs fail because most people feel in order to accomplish their goals they need to do everything on the above list. The truth is, they are probably right, but here is where they are wrong, if you can’t establish consistency with your routine then you will never meet your goal. Start off slow and establish one new behavior at a time. If it takes you a year to establish all your consistent habits then you will not only be closer to your goals, you will sustain them.