Monthly Health Message:

Putting Fitness Intention into Action

May 2012

Karen Ensle Ed.D., RD, FADA, CFCS
Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County

Exercising is dependent on how you value being fit. Your mind and your perception of your ability to exercise, along with your desire to engage in physical activity, have the most influence on how much exercise you actually do. There is no question that, if you do not enjoy doing physical activity or don't think you are good at it, you will not be motivated to do it.

Studies with older women have shown that a person's perceived health benefits from regular exercise motivated many to overcome mental barriers such as lack of confidence in their ability to exercise and lack of time. Here are some strategies to help intention become reality:

  • A place to exercise needs to be near your home or work. It is important that you don't have to go out of your way to exercise as that will give you an excuse not to do it. If you want to take dance lessons or join a gym, make sure it is close to where you live or on your way to or from your workplace.
  • Choose physical activities that you enjoy such as hiking, biking, gardening, walking or any activity that gets you moving. Combine basic strength training with aerobic and balance exercises that improve your ability to function. Combining strength training with cardiovascular exercise of different intensity creates a time-efficient workout.
  • Try going to dance classes such as Zumba or Bollywood that are inspired by Latin, Indian or ballroom varieties. Using computer-based activities such as Wii, interactive video games, online exercises or fitness podcasts might also be a choice.
  • Set a S.M.A.R.T. goal. To stay motivated, set a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Sensitive. Setting a goal "to lose weight" is too vague. Instead, set a specific, measurable goal such as losing 30 pound by cutting daily calories and walking three days a week along with participating in an aerobics class 3 days a week. Is that goal realistic? Is it achievable? What is the time frame in which to accomplish your goal?
  • Set a schedule. Regular exercise is a MUST. Make the time everyday to achieve your weight loss goal. Set up your schedule on your computer, on your phone, on a calendar or a to-do list. Use what works for you to ensure that you schedule exercise daily.
  • Practice positive self-talk that you can change your behavior. Replace "I can't" with "I can do it". Positive messages will help you stay fit and healthy. Small steps in managing your daily activity will help you lose weight if you couple it with healthy eating and a healthy attitude. Positive self-talk is a great habit that tells your mind that you care about your body and your health.
Take small steps today toward making small changes that will lead to a healthier body, mind, and spirit.


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences