How to start (and stick to) a new fitness regime

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It's that time of year again when exercise, fitness and general good health are uppermost in the minds of many post-Christmas, bloated Brits. But as we all know, even given all the best intentions in the world, sticking to a New Year fitness regime isn't as easy as it seems on New Year's Eve.

Take a tip from us and try these handy motivational hints that will stop that fitness regime becoming a fad.

Plan your time
It's the easiest excuse in the book - I've been far too busy this week. Be honest with yourself - were you really too busy, or just looking for a get-out clause? Put the excuses to one side, and plan your weekly fitness slots on a Sunday night. Some prefer an early morning workout, others a lunchtime session, while some put in a few extra minutes at the weekend to make up for a heavy weekday work schedule. Whatever works for you, put it in the diary, and stick to it.

Buddy up
Seek out friends who are equally desperate to lose weight or get fit in the New Year (the chances are there are plenty of them around), and arrange to meet at regular times and places, whatever your chosen activity. When someone else is relying on you to be there, you're less likely to let them down with a lame excuse. And you never know, a bit of healthy rivalry might just work wonders for both of you.

Join the club
Not everyone is cut out for lonely pavement-pounding running sessions, or hours on a treadmill. If that sounds like you, joining a sports club or class can really help to put the fun in fitness. Joining a dance, yoga or pilates class, or a local cycling or running club will make your exercise sessions more of a social event. And if that's not your cup of tea, why not get a group of friends together for a five-a-side kickabout?

Change it up
Boredom can be a key failure factor when it comes to getting fit, so it's important to make changes if you find yourself weary of your exercise regime. There are so many choices available these days, from dodgeball and squash to hula hooping and pole dancing, that there's really no place for boredom. Check out local gyms, sports centres and clubs for free first sessions that might help to keep you motivated.

Aim low
Not the kind of thing you'll hear from a hopeful Olympian, but one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you set out on a new exercise regime, particularly if you're lacking in fitness, is to aim too high. Setting goals can do wonders for your motivation, but if you set yourself an impossible target, you'll easily give up when things get tough. It could be just deciding to go running twice a week, extending your mileage or improving your time or score, but whatever your goals, make sure they're incremental. And remember, each time you push yourself just that little bit further, you'll get the buzz that will keep you keen for the next time.

Did you manage to get fit in 2013? What are your tips for success? Leave your comments below...