fitness

The best day to start a workout plan you'll actually stick to.

We all know we should be exercising more. But knowing and doing are two very different things. And on the off chance that you actually do, it’s even harder to keep doing.

Every night before I go to bed I set two alarms. One for 6:30am that says “WORKOUT!” and one for 7:45am that says “I’m disappointed in you”. In the past three months, I’ve gotten up for that 6:30am alarm a handful of times (a newborn baby’s a handful) and never on consecutive days.

If you’re like me, tired of being disappointed in yourself for not exercising regularly, here are some tips and tricks for actually sticking to your workout regime. (Post continues after gallery.)

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New week, new you

According to researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, if you’re looking to start a new workout program, you might want to wait until Monday.

“On certain days, called temporal landmarks, you just have a different view of yourself,” said Jason Riis, visiting professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of report told Today. “You become more forward looking.” Meaning Monday is the day you are most likely to make a change in habits, to make a fresh start.

Morning, noon, or night?

Okay, so this Monday you’re going to start working towards the new you, but what time should you start? Which is best, an early morning, afternoon, or evening sweat session? Well, unfortunately there isn’t a short answer to this. According to Vogue, they all have their pros and cons.

Morning

Pro: Early morning exercise kick-starts your blood circulation, and the endorphin rush helps brighten your mood.

Con: Lack of sleep. Ugh.

Tips: Stretch. Stretch. Stretch. “Keep in mind that because you’ve been lying down in a sleep state for several hours, it’s important to take time to prepare your body for exercising,” Paul Vincent, cofounder of Santa Monica, California’s Altus Sports Institute, tells Vogue.

Woman stretching
"It’s important to take time to prepare your body for exercising." Image via iStock

Afternoon

Pros: Afternoon exercise can regulate circadian rhythms which can help to jumpstart your metabolism.

Cons: Afternoon sessions are incredibly hard to schedule for most people.

Tips: Afternoon workouts benefits are especially seen in people that are working out twice a day. Pilates trainer Nonna Gleyzer, who trains Gisele Bündchen and Kerry Washington tells Vogue, "Dancers and NFL players alike train in the afternoon, in addition to morning sessions,” but adds “If you don’t have time during the week, just do it on the weekend.”

Evening

Pros: Vincent tells Vogue that night exercisers “push themselves hard in their workouts, become very restful in recovery, and flush out stress before sleeping.”

Cons: Evening exercise can increase energy when your body should be winding down for sleep causing disruption to your rest.

Tips: Gleyzer recommends what she calls a “happy medium” session of Pilates, yoga, relaxed tennis, swimming or power walks.

Female swimmer
"Experts recommend a “happy medium” session of Pilates, yoga, relaxed tennis, swimming or power walks." Image via iStock.

Keep motivated

Once you've started, it can feel almost impossible to keep going.

Give it time

Some say that it takes 21 days to form a habit (I'm looking at you Beyoncé), but when it comes to exercise it's important to be a little more realistic about how long it's going to take to get into the swing of things. Rebecca Woll, manager of personal training at Equinox in New York City tells Health, you should expect it to take about six weeks. "This is when you start to see aesthetic changes in your body," she explains. "Once you see these changes you won't want to go back to the old you!"

Make a date

Scheduling a standing appointment to workout with a friend adds some accountability. According to Preventions, research shows that having a dedicated workout partner makes you more likely to stick with an exercise program.

Monday is only a few days away. Start planning!

This post originally appeared on Spring.St and has been republished here with full permission.

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