Would you like to have healthier habits in your life? Have you tried to get on an exercise program before and it didn’t stick?
It’s the same story for a lot of people. They started out with good intentions and plan to exercise. Maybe they even got through a few days of exercise before feeling overtired and sore and then missing a few days.
Once you miss a couple days, it’s tough to get back on track. Once your exercise routine derails, it can be a struggle to get the motivation to get it going again. It may seem like whatever motivated you to begin exercising is gone now or no longer works.
So, how to make exercise a habit? How can you make fitness a part of your regular routine to where it becomes natural and you have a craving or desire for regular exercise?
I’m going to talk with you today about how to make exercise a daily habit so that whenever you have a little hiccup in your schedule and you end up missing a day or two, you can get right back on it.
Turning anything into a habit is the difference between it being something you do sometimes and something you do regularly as a part of your life.
Developing healthy habits is an important step toward becoming a well-balanced person who has control over their life and who lives a life they are proud of.
Set Realistic Goals to Make Exercise a Daily Habit
Some people will tell you that in order to make something a habit, you need to set crazy, outlandish goals. They may recommend that you dive headfirst into a really deep commitment, but that’s a good way to get burned out quickly and to get scared off from what you set out to do.
My suggestion is to start small and with realistic goals in mind. Make a goal that will challenge you but not something that you know is likely beyond you.
Choose a goal that’s attainable, such as doing 10 pushups a day or running for 20 minutes each day. Plan some breaks in there as well, maybe taking a day or two off of exercise during the week.
If you’re taking more than one day off, it’s a good idea to spread it out, because long periods of no exercise can make it difficult to go back to exercising.
How Long to Make a Habit Stick?
Once you start setting small goals for yourself and you’re nearing those goals or reaching them, you can start to set more goals. This will help keep you motivated and get you into the habit of exercising. How long will you have to keep setting these kinds of goals, and how long does it take to make exercise a habit?
One of the rules of thumb when it comes to developing habits is that if you do it for 40 days consecutively, it becomes a habit.
For some people, it can take as little is 18 days to turn an activity into a habit. For others, it can take 250 days, according to some studies.
The truth is, it depends on the person and what it is you’re trying to make a habit out of. Doing something consecutively for a few weeks is a great way to build a habit, and for most people, that can be enough.
4 Ways to Make Exercise a Habit
1. Keep Your Exercise Regime Interesting
You may want to assess the things that have caused you to stop exercising in the past. There may be factors that derail your exercise plans and cause you to lose momentum.
These factors can be different for everybody, ranging from significant others, to food cravings, to a busy schedule, to any number of other things. For a lot of people, though, one of the biggest reasons they stop exercising is because it stops being interesting to them.
One of the best ways how to make a habit of exercise is to choose an exercise that’s interesting to you. If you like to go to the beach, you may want to choose swimming as your main exercise. If you like sightseeing and spending time in nature, then taking a jog through the park may be your preferred form of exercise.
If you like nothing more than to watch movies or listen to music, then you may want to buy an elliptical or treadmill for your home. That way, you can stay at home and watch shows while you exercise.
It’s also important that you switch up your exercises every once in a while. If you do the same thing for too long, you will probably lose interest after some time. This doesn’t happen to everybody, but for a lot of people, this is a serious problem.
What can help is to create a varied routine where you do cardio exercises one day and resistance exercises another day. This gives you something to look forward to and puts some variety into your exercise routine.
If you search up “NPR- how to make exercise a habit that sticks”, you’ll likely come across something called “temptation bundling”.
This means that you stick an indulgence with your healthy habit. So, if you like to watch a specific television show, you can limit when you can watch that show to when you’re exercising.
By putting this arbitrary limit in place, you’re more likely to exercise, because you have something to look forward to when you’re working out.
2. Grab a Partner
How to make exercise a habit when you’re lazy? If you know yourself and your habits and you know that you’re likely to quit exercising shortly after you start, then you should find an exercise partner.
Try to choose someone who you like spending time with and who’s willing to exercise with you at a time that’s convenient for both of you.
If you can’t find an exercise partner, at least find an accountability partner. This is someone who you tell that you’re exercising and who will check up on you to make sure you’re keeping with your goals and doing what you said you would.
People who tend to be lazy and give up on their goals quickly can benefit from constant motivation. Having a partner who is either there exercising with you or checking in on you can keep you motivated and keep you exercising.
3. Go at Your Own Pace
Not every exercise program is suitable for every person. Some people start an exercise program that they think will give them great results and then give up on it quickly because it’s too difficult.
It’s important that you choose a program you can handle and that’s right for your activity level.
How to make exercise a habit for seniors? Choose an exercise activity that’s easy enough for you. What a lot of seniors will do is simply go for a walk around a track or inside a shopping mall or even a large retail store.
This provides them a safe environment, and it’s an exercise that they can do at their own pace without putting themselves at risk. Apply this idea, no matter what your age – just choose an exercise you feel comfortable doing.
4. Schedule a Time
Another reason that people will quit exercising is because they are exercising at different times. Their schedule doesn’t work very well with the way they exercise, and they never set up specific time to do their exercises.
If you don’t nail down a time for when you’re going to work out, you’ll likely find that there are many days where it just doesn’t fit into your schedule. Choose a time where you’re likely to have free time and when you’ll have energy for exercising.
For people with busy schedules, the best time to exercise might be first thing in the morning or the last thing at night, before they showered. You don’t have to pick out a specific time like 9:30 AM.
What you can do instead is pick a range, such as 8:30-10:30. Make sure you do your exercises somewhere in this range, and that gives you a little room to work with. That gives you a little freedom if something comes up and you need to make adjustments to your schedule.
My name is Ellis Francis and I have been a personal fitness trainer, sports nutritionalist and health and fitness advisor for over 25 years. I am the lead health and fitness advisor at https://ahumanbody.com.