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Learning to love movement: Enjoy exercise!

You finally find the time to exercise. You get started and you feel pretty proud of yourself—until you realize 15 minutes into your activity that your jeans are cutting off all circulation to your lower extremities. The bottom line: If you’re uncomfortable during your workout, your commitment to fitness will be short-lived. Before starting an exercise program, get your healthcare provider’s okay and then try these tips to make exercise enjoyable.

Pick a pleasant, convenient place. If you enjoy nature, find a walking path, plan a weekly hike or just jog around the neighborhood. But if battling the elements seems like a hassle, find activities you can do at home. Stock up on exercise videos, invest in a piece of exercise equipment or keep a pair of dumbbells on hand.

Find the right time. Research shows people who exercise first thing in the morning are more successful at making fitness a habit. But that doesn’t mean other times are not conducive to working out. In fact, scientists who study circadian rhythms (the body’s internal clock) say the best time to exercise is within three hours of your body’s peak temperature (it fluctuates plus or minus 1.5 degrees Farenheit each day). That’s when muscles are more flexible, reaction time is quicker and resting heart rate and blood pressure are lower.

Dress right. Light, loose layers are your best bet for exercising in comfort. You’ll be able to move freely and can remove a layer if you begin to perspire. Also, make sure you wear appropriate footwear.

Get energized. Drink 4 to 6 ounces of water before you exercise and at 15-minute intervals during exercise. If you plan to work out for more than an hour, a low-fat energy bar can provide the fuel your body needs to keep moving.

Listen…to music, a book on tape or a fitness buddy to make your routine more fun. More important, listen to your body: If you feel pain or real discomfort, stop your activity.

Eliminate distractions. If you exercise at home, ask your family not to interrupt you. Take care of your bodily needs before your activity (if urinary incontinence is a problem, specially designed pads can help).

Vary your activities. Boredom is one of the biggest commitment killers, so find several activities you enjoy and pick and choose depending on the weather and your mood.