How to Make Exercise a Habit

It’s a New Year, and what does that mean? New Year’s Resolutions, which often include adding healthy eating and exercise. But 3 months from now, how many of you will stick to the healthier lifestyle? Gyms love this time of year because they entice motivated people into buying annual memberships, all knowing that 75% of those people will quit going regularly by March.

I have talked often about forming good habits and getting rid of bad habits. I believe if you make exercise a habit in your weekly routine, then it will be easier to stick to it. I get it, we have busy lives. Unexpected things come up which makes it harder to keep exercise in your schedule.

These are the things I have done to keep exercise in my weekly schedule:

  1. Start Small. If you haven’t been exercising at all, then don’t go extreme and add 1 hour of exercise 3-5 times a week. You may go strong the first week or 2, but something is bound to come up and then you’ll miss 1 or 2 days of exercise, get discouraged and give up. So I recommend adding smaller bits of exercise the first 2 weeks and begin adding on to it once you stick to the schedule. Add maybe 2-10 minute walk breaks during your work day. I added walk breaks 4 years ago and to this day I still take them every work day. I may not always get in a walk break in the morning, but then I’ll fit it in during lunch or the evening. Once you have established the habit, then you can build on that and add a longer exercise workout, maybe on your regular day off when you have more time. I routinely exercise on Saturday for an hour. I know I have the time to do it and I can make it more intense.
  2. Set Weekly Goals Instead of Daily Ones. If you set a daily goal of exercise or even set it for specific days and then have to miss a day because of an illness or emergency, you’re more likely to give up and not go back to it. Instead, make it a goal to exercise 3 times a week. That way if you can’t exercise 1 day, you can always move it to the next. Even better, you could set a goal of 3 hours of exercise a week. That way say one week day you only have 20 minutes available, whereas on a day off you have an hour available.
  3. Put Exercise Reminders on your Mobile Phone Calendar. The more you see reminders, the more likely you are to exercise. I have set up repetitive exercise reminders on my calendar which motivates me to exercise. It also prevents me from scheduling something else during that time.
  4. Get a Fitness Tracker. Fitness trackers have become more popular and there are several different brands available. I wear a FitBit Sense, which is more affordable than an Apple Watch, but has many of the same features (Tracks Heart Rate, Body Temperature, SpO2, Steps, receives text messages/calls, able to listen to music from apps, etc.). The tracker will be able to show you how often your heart rate is in fatburn or cardio levels, estimate how many calories you burn and track your exercise goals. With the FitBit, I’m able to set my goals in the app and it will tell me when I’ve met my weekly goal.
  5. Get an Accountability Partner. I love exercise and am motivated to do it without someone holding me accountable, but I have met people who find it hard to exercise unless they have someone to go along with them. I go walking 1-2 times a week with a friend and this has helped her keep up with a regular exercise routine. Another way to do this is to join an exercise class or, if you can afford the expense, hire a personal trainer.

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