So How Can You Make Exercise A Habit?
So you want to know how to get motivated to workout and build an exercise habit that sticks. Often building a sustainable habit is the hardest part of starting a new routine, but once you’ve built a strong habit the benefits will show in no time.
Daily exercise is a good habit and important for a healthy mind and body. Forming healthy habits is easier said than done. Most people want to be healthy. We know the things we should do to be healthy, like exercise and eat well. The difficult part is actually making that happen. Once exercise becomes a habit, it’s much easier to put this into action.
If your fitness routine has been less than consistent over the past few months, you’re not alone. It takes a plan and commitment to start your healthy exercise habit.
But after a few months break, this is easier said than done. Anyone who has tried to lose weight, tone up or even just recommit to exercise knows that the battle is often more mental than physical.
You can win that battle and make exercise a habit that you actually enjoy!
First, let me remind you some of the many benefits of exercise:
- Increases happiness.
- Makes you sleep better.
- Reduces stress.
- Gives you a boost of energy.
- Helps you lose weight.
- Reduces risk of some diseases.
- Builds your confidence.
Now, if that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. Let’s dive right into how you can make exercise a habit with these simple tips.
Make a conscious decision
If you want to work out more, don’t leave it to chance! So think about what’s been holding you back so far. Make sure you understand what this decision could cost you! You are worth it and you CAN do it. Just decide to. And do it.
If you want to be out of shape, be out of shape. If you want to put yourself at risk for a load of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, with what you eat, go ahead.
But don’t act helpless, you have a choice and you need to make the decision.
That you can’t work out. Don’t say you can’t lose weight. That you can’t be healthy.
Because if you want something bad enough, if you really, truly want it… you’ll do it. You CAN do it!
It’s your decision.
Set realistic and concrete goals
First, ask yourself what exactly you want to achieve. A beach body? A fitness model? This is probably a little aggressive. You need to be realistic and start small. It is better to determine, for example, how often you want to run, bike, or work out during the week. Constantly having this in mind affects your habits and will increase the chances you’ll achieve your goal.
Setting concrete goals is a great way to get your head back in the game and science shows that doing so does encourage behavior change when it comes to diet and fitness. But setting the right kind of goal is key. One that is too contentious has the potential to have the opposite effect, leaving you discouraged and preventing you from sticking with it.
I recommend keeping a fitness journal. Every day you can document your activities. To see what you have achieved in a certain period of time is already an incentive! Fitness wristbands or apps, which count the steps taken or the calories burned, can also help.
Write down the things that are important to you. It could be how much time you exercise each day, how many steps you walked, what you ate, how much you weighed, etc.
I have a great diet and fitness tracker you can print off now! It has everything you need to set yourself up for success. Best of all it’s only $3.95!
This fitness planner includes:
- 2 Weekly Fitness Planners
- 1 Weekly Meal Planner
- 1 Weekly Food Tracker
- 1 Monthly Workout Planner
- 1 Before & After Page
- 1 Exercise log Page
- 1 Recipe Page
- 1 Healthy Habit Tracker
- 1 30 day challenge Page
Establish a routine
Habits are best formed when you do them regularly, for example, always at the same time or in the same context. Whether you train in the morning, at noon or in the evening is of course up to you. Depending on your individual preference, any time of day can be the right time for you.
Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
Experiment to find the workout time that’s best for you
When it comes to exercise, the best time of day to get in a workout session is one that you can do consistently. Everyone is different. The right time depends on factors like your preference, lifestyle, and body.
Many people find that it’s best to exercise first thing in the morning; that way, when they get tired and stressed, or distracted with day to day life, their workout doesn’t end up getting pushed off the schedule.
However, that’s not a rule for everyone. Everybody’s got different work/life schedules and different rhythms to their daily energy and motivation. Maybe you’ll love working out at lunchtime or at night. You’ll never know unless you try. Experiment with different options and see what works best for you.
Why exercise is great first thing in the morning
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, morning workouts do have some benefits. Let’s look at the potential benefits of an early exercise session.
Morning workouts typically mean you’re less prone to distractions. When you first wake up, you haven’t started tackling the day’s to-do list. You’re also less likely to get phone calls, text messages, and emails.
With fewer distractions, you’re more likely to follow through with your workout.
Experts agree that a morning schedule is best. Exercise, take a shower, and you’re energized for the day. Working out early may encourage you to make healthier choices throughout the day.
By exercising early, you may feel more energized throughout the day. Morning exercise is a great way to start the day on the positive note. You’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment, giving you an optimistic outlook for the day.
An early morning workout could set the tone for a healthier day.
It will be a time where there will be nothing other than your exercise.
Fitness is just as important as work, social obligations, and after-school activities. Plan your workouts in advance, and put them on your calendar. Doing this will serve as a mental commitment, and you’re more likely to stick with your plan.
Lay out your gear and be prepared
Get those cute workout close out the night before!
The night before, pick your favorite workout outfit and set it out all ready to go. When your alarm goes off, you’ll be all set to get your butt in gear!
The fewer obstacles there are in forming your new habit, the more likely you are to be successful. If you have to not only wake up early but get a bunch of gear together while half awake, you might just want to go back into bed. But if you lay out your workout clothes and shoes and watch and mp3 player, or whatever you need for your exercise, you’ll be ready to go with no obstacles at all.
Plus, having a cute workout outfit on, is always a great motivator for actually getting that daily workout in.
Identify your motivation. Whether you aim to lose weight, feel more energized or develop awesome abs, choosing a personal fitness goal as a primary motivator can make it easier to make regular exercise a routine.
Find a picture of yourself when you were at your goal weight. Put it as your screensaver or your phone background, print it out and put it at your desk, hang it up on your bathroom mirror. It just needs to be somewhere that will be a constant reminder of your goals.
Do something you enjoy
Exercising regularly is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. And also one of the most commonly broken. Gyms around the world fill up with freshly-minted members in January . . . who are almost all gone by February. I wonder if they would’ve stayed if they actually enjoyed it!
To make exercise a habit, it’s as simple as finding a form of exercise that you truly love.
It might sound too simple, but I promise you, if you find a form of exercise that you love doing, you won’t struggle to make exercise a habit. On the flip side, if you’re forcing yourself to do something you hate, you’re not going to keep it up.
If you’re struggling to find a form of exercise that resonates with you, I’d encourage you to give everything a try. You never know what is going to be the one you fall in love with!
Find something that you enjoy doing. If you don’t like lifting weights, try a bodyweight program. If you hate cardio, mix it up with dance, kick-boxing, or HIIT. If you don’t like working out by yourself, try joining a CrossFit class, or a martial arts school, or a team sport.
Exercise is now something I look forward to. In fact feels like one of the best parts of my life.
Tell others about it
Some people find it useful to get an accountability partner for their workouts. This could be a personal trainer or a coach, or it could be a friend. The accountability factor has played a huge role in my success. I started going to a BootCamp class every morning with my friend a few years ago. I felt like if I didn’t make it to class I was letting her down. She was also a great motivator.
If you want to take the accountability up a level, then put some stakes on the line. Paying for a coach or trainer is one way to do this. Knowing that you’re throwing your money down the drain every time you miss a session can motivate you not to miss a workout.
Experts say that making behavior changes is hard, and rewards motivate. So decide on a goal and a reward, and work toward it. You might buy yourself a fitness tracker you’ve wanted after you stick to your fitness plan for one month, or buy new walking shoes when you achieve 5,000 steps a day. Do whatever works for you.
I like to reward myself with cute workout outfits. I usually get a tank top but occasionally shorts or an awesome sports bra. Cute work out clothes not only motivate me to work out but they make me feel better about myself.
There are no limits! The only important thing is that the reward is healthy and that your progress isn’t derailed (like three Big Macs after a week of work outs).
Make exercise a habit and it’ll happen! You deserve it!
Don’t Skip A Day
Don’t skip a day. It’s so easy to convince yourself that if you work out twice you deserve a break. The downside of that is that it’ll make your habit formation harder. Consistency is key, so try not to skip a single day. If you do, don’t beat yourself up, don’t judge, don’t feel bad. Everyone messes up sometimes, and habit formation is a skill that requires practice. Just start over, and try to identify the obstacle that led to your skipping a day and be prepared for next time.
Another thing on commitment—don’t skip a workout on a scheduled workout day. Even if that coffee day with your BFF sounds like way more fun than getting sweaty with a HIIT workout, stay committed. This is a key part of making exercise habits that will help you reach your goals.
Do your workout, then do the other things (you’ll thank yourself later.)
When you’re first starting your new routine, try not to miss a day for at least 3 weeks, if not a month. It takes about that long to establish a habit.
Once you establish the habit and understand the importance of keeping it, it’s not as bad to skip a day. Rest days are beneficial. Just be sure not to have too many of them!
And lose the excuses. Make yourself a priority.
When you are about to start your exercise program, the first thing to consider is to start with what you can and be realistic.
When working on making exercise habits that stick, start small. Why? Because as with anything, overshooting and aiming too high without a plan may just lead to disappointment.
We definitely want to set ourselves up for success here. So, start small, and focus on the process of making these new habits a lifestyle change.
Focus on 2-3 small and attainable goals, and write them down. Focus on tackling these first before moving to the next. You can also write out a detailed plan to help you reach these goals faster.
Want to wake up early and workout every single morning for a month? Write that goal down, and how you’ll ensure this happens (like setting that alarm and placing your workout clothes out each night before bed.)
Work on a few goals at a time, and then keep making more. Before you know it, all of these goals will turn into exercise habits that stick.
Forget the ‘all or nothing’ mentality
The all or nothing approach does not work well. This is not a healthy mentality.
People tend to say ‘I’m all in or I’m all out.’ When we look at our health in that way it really sets us up to feel like we’re failing.
“I’m going to start my weight-loss goals in January” or “I’m going to start eating healthy after the holidays,”. Those are both examples of the all or nothing mentality and it’s self-sabotage.
We can all relate to falling victim to this at some point: Perhaps it was eating that piece of cake at the office party that sent your diet spiraling for the rest of the day (might as well order pizza for dinner if you already slipped up, right?). Or maybe you hit snooze one too many times and missed your spin class, so you just skipped working out altogether.
To combat this, experts advise us to reframe the way we think about our health, taking it from being an overarching long-term project that we must stay on top of all of the time to being individual opportunities to make a healthy choice. Go choice by choice. In one day, you have, say, 35 decisions related to your health to make. So if you choose to workout, that’s one. If you decide to workout longer than five minutes, that’s another. It’s choice after choice that builds on itself in that day. It’s not that you have to wait until the next day to start over. It’s all those individual choices.
Make exercise a priority
It has to be a non-negotiable.
I get it, you’re busy. We’re all busy, and we’re all tired, but we all want to look & feel good, right?
If you’re honest with yourself, you know deep down that health and exercise should be your #1 priority (or at least #2, after your loved ones). You can’t take care of your family if you don’t take care of yourself.
When we exercise, we’re not just burning off those mid-morning treats we just couldn’t pass up or toning up our bellies and butts for bikini season — we’re setting the stage for more productive work, happier social interactions, better choices and less stressful days. Exercise benefits you physically and mentally and helps you prepare for all the chaos in the day.
That being said, exercise should be a priority and an activity that fits into your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth or taking out the trash.
Making exercise a habit doesn’t need to be hard. Find something you enjoy, plan for it, prioritize it, and point it towards a purpose.
We all know that fitness is a huge part of supporting overall health, but making exercise habits that stick can be challenging.
If you’re ready to really fire up your current fitness routine, use these hacks to supercharge those habits and make them something you can commit to long-term.
If you decide you want to do it, then you will. The habits will form easier than you think and you’ll be on your way to a healthier you.