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Although Christmas is my favorite holiday, I love taking some time off from the season’s busy proceedings to plan ahead for the new year. The beginning of a new year is a great opportunity to start new habits, including adding a fitness routine to your schedule. I know the benefits of adding exercise to your daily routine have been stressed over and over again, but what hasn’t been discussed is the difficulty of getting started on a healthy workout plan.

What you need to find is your motivation to get fit. Motivation is the key to forcing yourself to wake up early on school days or to giving up junk food for fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, motivation can be hard to find when you are forced to endure the same boring exercise regime every day.

In order to get myself to commit to a new year of health, I’ve devised some ways to get “fun fitness” into my day.

1. Fitness Video Games – Xbox Kinect, Playstation Move, and the Wii, have been recently gearing their games towards fitness.  In my opinion, Just Dance 3 is one of the best ways to fit in your daily dose of fun while burning calories. I highly recommend dance games for aerobic workouts in disguise. Most of these games even have specific workout modes designed for burning away calories.

2. Walking Everywhere – Walking is a great alternative to running. It may not burn as many calories but the idea of walking is certainly more compelling than running. Anything that keeps your heart rate up is going to give you the exercise you need to stay healthy. So the next time you need to run an errand consider walking instead of driving. Plug in some headphones and enjoy some fresh air as you get your errands done. (Not to mention, you save gas too.)

3.  Playing Sports – I’m pretty sure it’s obvious that playing sports involves exercise, but consider substituting treadmill runs for a friendly game of basketball. Competition is another great motivating factor. I never seem to run out of energy when I’m in a game of 3-on-3 basketball, mostly because I don’t want to be the first one to give up. Playing a competitive game of any sport is a great way to push yourself toward your fitness goal.

Being healthy as a student is something that simply cannot be taken for granted. There’s nothing like being able to go a whole day at college without feeling sleepy in the slightest because of your morning workout. Exercise wakes up your brain and primes your body for a long day at study and work.

So make exercise one of your new year’s goals for 2012. You’ll be surprised at how much your health and self-esteem will improve after a seemingly short period of time.

(Note: This CampusRiot article, here, gives great advice about new year’s resolutions and provides other useful tips on fitness – see #3.)

Photo courtesy of Steve H. via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).