CalendarThe biggest advantage of a workout calendar is the system of accountability it provides. When I trained for my first marathon, I lived by that calendar and felt proud each time I crossed off a workout day. Writing out your workout plan strengthens your commitment and helps you stay on task. Making a workout calendar is easy. No special tools are required. Whether you use the computer or pen and paper, your calendar is a fitness tool that can help your exercise plan go farther.

Start by Identifying Your Goals

When you know what you are trying to accomplish, deciding how to develop your workout calendar is easier. For example, if your goal is to meet the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 150 minutes each week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of exercise, you can use your calendar to divide those minutes up in a way that fits realistically into your schedule. Write out and review your calendar at the beginning of each month.

Start with an End Date in Mind

Another strategy for making a workout calendar is to develop it with an eye toward a fitness event. Used in this way, the workout calendar can help you train well to cross that finish line. How far out you need to plan will depend on the type of event and your level of fitness. For example, beginners might want to make a workout calendar that includes two months of training in preparation for a 5k. You can also use this plan for a big event such as a wedding or class reunion.

YogaJust as you mark your exercise days, include rest days. Scheduling these days will be important for building muscle, avoiding injury and fatigue. Again depending on your age and fitness level, you want to build in at least one rest day each week. Alternatively, you can plan cross training days. If you run four days each week, considering adding a day or two of exercise that gives your joints a rest. Yoga, swimming and the elliptical machine are good options that will help you continue to burn calories.

However you keep you calendar, be sure that it is visible. Paper calendar might be posted in your office or on the refrigerator. Calendars posted on electronic devices should include an alert feature so you don’t miss your fitness appointment. Also, be sure to share your workout calendar with family for added support and accountability. Your fitness commitment to yourself is more important in today’s environment than ever before. We are all sitting more, eating less healthfully and managing stress poorly. Exercise is an important tool for combating those and many more challenges. When you write it down, you are more likely to make it happen.