Make Exercise a Habit Once and for All
How to Stick to Exercse Habits
Habits are difficult to form, especially when it comes to exercising. Nonetheless, being active can become part of your daily routine for life. Here’s some expert guidance to help you form exercise habits and stick to them.
Identify Your Motivation
The key to making a true lifestyle change is having a self-driven reason to adjust your habits. According to Tori Hinchman, director of fitness and wellness on Thomas Jefferson University’s East Falls campus, it’s best to think about what you want to achieve or improve for yourself, and make sure you aren’t working solely on external motivations.
Making a change because someone else may have told you to isn’t enough. If you want to be successful in this endeavor, it’s important that you find your “why” – Why is this something you care about and why make changes now?
Find a Routine You Can Maintain
Your exercise habits should be built around you. Meaning, if you don’t want to invest in an expensive gym membership or force yourself to love running – DON’T. There are plenty of ways you can actively exercise without sacrificing your money or interests, such as taking a long walk around your neighborhood or jogging through the park.
Finding your ideal routine involves figuring out the best time to exercise too. Some prefer early mornings and others choose late nights, but the answer to this question varies for everyone. Consider your personal preferences and take inventory of your day-to-day tasks. Hinchman recommends adding small exercises into your regular schedule to start, and over time, it will grow into a bigger, more guaranteed part of your day.
Consistency is Key
Consistency is vital to your ability to build sustainable exercise habits. While this is true throughout your entire journey, it’s especially important when you’re just starting out. According to Hinchman, solidifying a regular exercise habit is far easier if you commit to doing something every day – even if it’s only for 10 minutes.
In the beginning stages, repetition should be prioritized over time and duration. Instead of trying to devote two hours, three times a week to exercising, Hinchman advises that it’s better to commit to daily activity for shorter blocks of time at first and stick with it.
One Thing at a Time
When deciding to start an exercise routine, it’s common for individuals to have a list of other health adjustments they wish to make on top of it. Whether you want to stop eating sugar or extend your sleep schedule, focus on changing one habit at a time.
According to Hinchman, attempting to make too many large-scale changes at once is a sure way to fail at maintaining your exercise routine as a regular commitment. Patterns and practices aren’t established overnight. Make small, incremental changes and build on them as you go.
Be Patient with Yourself
Experts typically point to three or four weeks as the minimum amount of time it takes to solidify a habit, but that isn’t a concrete rule. Rather, it’s dependent on an individual’s intrinsic motivation and follow-through. In other words: don’t rush yourself.
Habits that may take one person the “standard” amount of time to solidify might take someone else five, six, or seven weeks to nail down. Everyone is different, but Hinchman asserts that the 21 / 90 rule is a good guideline: 21 days to create a habit, and 90 days to create a lifestyle.
With these tips in mind, making some form of exercise part of your daily life won’t seem so challenging. Commit to it and stick to it for yourself.