Let's face it - most of us WANT to resolve to exercise more in 2014, but most of us WON'T... especially if we're suffering from chronic pain.

Here are 5 simple tips you can use to increase your odds of sticking to a healthy exercise routine:

  1. Keep it simple

    Start with something you already like to do - or with an activity that sounds fun. For example, if you like to dance, consider signing up for a low impact dance class.

    Or, if you've been meaning to catch up on a TV series on Netflix, consider placing a treadmill in your TV room and walk while you watch.

    Other low impact aerobic exercises:

    You don't necessarily have to sweat a lot to reap big rewards from exercise. An immediate benefit of aerobic exercise is the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain reliever.

  2. Schedule small chunks of time

    Sound familiar? You exercise religiously early in the New Year before everyday challenges creep back in and get in the way once the holiday break is over.

    To counteract this common occurrence, try your hardest to block out 15-20 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week for exercise. It will be easier to keep your exercise appointment with yourself if you know you'll be done in no time at all!

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  1. Set meaningful, mini-goals

    Before starting an exercise program, determine your goals. Are you trying to lose weight, ease back pain, tone the body, accomplish all of the above, or do something else?

    Set modest goals at the start.

    For example:

    • Early in your exercise program, your goals may simply be to do your exercise on a regular basis throughout the first couple of weeks, thus establishing a routine.
    • Next, you may boost your mini-goals to include losing a few pounds or stepping back and analyzing how your back pain has felt since starting an exercise program.
    • Add an extra element to your routine, such as stretching and/or strengthening exercises.
    • For more ideas, see Exercise and Fitness to Help Your Back

  2. Think outside the box to retain focus and sharpness

    Getting bored?

    Now it's time to expand your exercise horizons:

    • Consider exercise programs that may be foreign but appealing to you, such as yoga or Pilates.
    • Invest in a weekly exercise class or a gym membership, with a financial commitment possibly pushing you to exercise on a more regular basis.
    • On a similar note, invest in a treadmill or an exercise bike.
    • Exercise walk 4 times/week with a good friend who may provide you with additional motivation and support to push forward.

    For some people, networking and speaking with other chronic sufferers (such as in the Spine-health forums) is a good way to learn from others, and to have others hold you accountable.

  3. Exercise for your specific condition

    There are several exercises designed to specifically address most conditions that cause back pain.

    Performing the wrong types of exercises, or doing them incorrectly, can further aggravate your pain.

    Here are several resources to guide you with exercises for specific back conditions:

Remember that with the right amount of research, preparation and commitment, more consistent exercise can be attainable beyond just the first week of the New Year.

Checking the many educational articles and videos in the Spine-health Exercise Health Center may provide you with the information you need to get started and progress.

In 2014, resolve to take charge of your pain by finding an exercise routine that is appropriate for your condition. Happy holidays!