Get a pedometer
Stanford University researchers conducted a review of 26 studies looking at the use of pedometers as motivation for physical activity. Published in 2007, the review found that people who used a pedometer increased their activity by 27%.
Having a goal of 10,000 steps a day (about five miles) was important, even if the goal wasn’t reached. Pedometer users lost more weight, had a greater drop in blood pressure, and walked about 2,500 steps more per day than those who didn’t use a pedometer.
Work out with a friend
Working out with friends can be an important motivator, particularly for people over 60, according to Vicki Conn, PhD, the associate dean for research at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., who has studied diabetes and exercise.
Having a friend call or setting up an exercise “contract” with a buddy may help. “One of the things we found with our meta-analysis is that behavioral strategies work better; that means setting up some sort of stimulus in the environment where you exercise,” says Conn.
Set specific, attainable goals
For example, you might set a goal of walking 10 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
“That doesn’t sound like a lot, but…setting up very specific goals like that helps people a lot more than telling people, ‘Gee, you’ve got to exercise more,’ ” says Conn.