How to Make Exercise a Habit

How to Make Exercise a Habit

Beginning an exercise routine may or may not be easy, however, the majority of us find what is most difficult is sticking with it once we’ve started. We start off strong, of course, with good intentions. Our new daily exercise routine gives us a new found energy, a sense of accomplishment, and makes us feel good about ourselves and as we begin our journey, we are determined to stay committed to make a difference and once and for all, stay on track.

Soon afterward, whether it be a few weeks, a few months or several months, we find ourselves straying. What happens? We get distracted. We don’t see results quick enough. Other things become a priority. Simply put, life gets in the way and soon, we find we throw in the towel and our workout schedule falls by the wayside.

But there are others out there who manage to stick with it. What is their secret? After studying this topic for several years and observing those who do manage to stay focused and committed to their with a daily exercise routine, there are several common habits and behaviors amongst those who make exercise a habit.

Here are some of the more common practiced habits that can assist you with not only making exercise a habit but allowing you to stick with your weekly workout routine and having your best workouts always:

1. Plan your workout schedule for the week. Just as you plan your work week, or your at-home schedule, do the same for your weekly workout routine. I have found that by planning my day in advance and allocating specific time in the day for my workout routine, I am much less likely to ‘skip’ my workout. Treat it as an appointment and don’t cancel!

2. Find an exercise that you enjoy. If you hate running, don’t commit to running three times a week. Why? Because you hate it! Rather, find something you enjoy doing. Whether it be home workout routines, circuit training, weight lifting, walking, jogging, dancing, swimming or a combination of all, if you love doing it, you are much, much more likely to stick with it.

3. Find a buddy. Over the years, I have found that by not only committing to myself but by having an exercise partner that holds me accountable, I am much more likely to stay committed to my workout schedule. Find someone who will meet you at class and keep you in check when you miss a day. Call, text, email one another and check in with one another. I am much less likely to ‘skip’ a workout when I have someone counting on me to be there. If you can’t find someone who will join you, ask someone who will support you in other ways by encouraging you to go, sending you reminders and checking in with you periodically to see how you are doing.

4. Measure your success, and not by just the scale. What changes have occurred since you started your journey? Of course, it goes without saying that having our clothes fit better and seeing the scale move in the downward direction are great motivators, however, they are not the only measurable items of your success. Since having begun your daily workout routine, are you sleeping better? Do you have more energy? Are things such as unloading your car full of groceries or walking a set of stairs easier? Or has your doctor congratulated you for improved cholesterol, blood pressure or other such health-related progress indicators? All of your successes should be celebrated, and can assist you in staying motivated.

5. Finally, never give up. Has it been awhile since you made your workout schedule a priority? If so, now is the time to get back on track. Don’t focus on any of the negatives you may be feeling (“I’ve gained the weight back”, “I’ve lost my strength”, “I will have to start over”), and most importantly, do not beat yourself up about it. Those most successful in making exercise a habit recognize that life will throw you curve balls. It is how you deal with those curve balls that will affect your success. If you are driving down the road and have a flat tire, will you give up? Not likely. You will get out and fix the flat tire (or call AAA!), get back into the car and continue on your way. The same goes with your health and fitness journey. All successes in life will have a few flat tires along the way. When you have a ‘flat tire’, rather than get out of the car and slash the other three tires, think about what you have to do to fix the flat tire, get back into the car and continue on your journey.

By Susan Kirkham

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