I wasn’t the kind of kid who played organized sports or even kickball in the street. I did take some dance classes, but at the time no one thought of them as exercise. Plus I was oh-so-uncoordinated … Of course I took phys ed class at school but I would have just as soon gone to the library. I never took pleasure in physical activity.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I discovered exercise as a feel good activity. I learned that it wasn’t all about building muscle, although that was a lovely side effect. My office was in the same building as a small gym, and it was free to belong. My girlfriends went up to the gym on their lunch hour, and I thought I’d try it too. I started to think about burning calories and “getting in shape.” I also discovered that it made me feel energetic and even happy!

Since then, I have done a lot of different things to gain all of these benefits – lifted weights, used cardio machines, taken yoga and water exercise classes, walked sidewalks and nature trails, and even bicycled a few miles. Now I can’t imagine my life without some sweaty, heavy-breathing, heart-pounding exercise every week. Whenever possible, I integrate exercise into my travel schedule as well. One of the benefits of my recent vacation was having time to catch three yoga classes during the week!

Here are some ideas I’ve gathered over the years. I hope they help you get moving towards adding exercise into your life!

Seven Tips for Getting the Most from your Exercise

1. Sweat: Make sure that when you exercise, it makes you sweat! When you exercise, you gain access to endorphins, a chemical produced by your body that can make you feel fantastic. Sweating intensely or even somewhat can contribute to detoxification of your skin and body. It makes you glow!

2. Switch: Switch up your exercise during the week, month or year. Don’t expect the same benefits forever from your routine. I find that learning something new is great for my body and my mind. Plus my muscles get bored doing the same type of exercise all the time. Every time I switch it up I gain momentum and strength. It’s also a great way to meet new friends and even do some networking!

3. Schedule: Incorporate exercise like it was another important appointment in your calendar. Put it in the calendar, and reschedule instead of cancel whenever you need to adjust your schedule. Commit to keep the appointments with yourself – you are worth it! If you are exercising with a health goal in mind, you can even write yourself a “prescription” that reminds you why you make the time to move more.

4. Experts: Schedule a few sessions with a personal trainer or coach who is an expert in the exercise you are practicing. Learn the best way! It will keep you from injuring yourself and maybe even motivate you to go further.

5. Hydrate: Make sure that as you exercise you are getting the water-based hydration you need. If you aren’t hydrated, exercise and lots of sweat can make you feel worse. There’s nothing more de-motivating than that! Experiment and discover what types of fuel work best for you – and what timing works best for you too. For example, I wouldn’t want to eat for at least 3 hours before a yoga class. But with other types of exercise I generally want some healthy carbs for fuel within an hour of starting.

6. Get dressed – Here’s a crazy idea from Dawn Jackson Blatner — get all dressed and ready to exercise, then go to the gym/studio/pool and don’t exercise! Walk around a bit and see what everyone else is getting to do, but go home before you do anything. After just three days of this you may be dying to actually exercise!

7. Listen to your body – Sometimes when we start something new, we push ourselves pretty hard. If you’re starting to hurt instead of feel energized, remember to back off based on how you feel not what someone else tells you is possible. Sleep if you need to. Find that fine line between listening to your body’s needs and being lazy. Don’t cross into lazy, but don’t hurt yourself either!