It’s a New Year and a new beginning. Like most people, adding more physical activity to your lifestyle might be one of your top goals or resolutions. However, wanting to make exercise a habit and actually doing it are two different things.
Changing your behavior is difficult. Humans are naturally creatures of habit, comfortable with routine. Adjusting your routine can make a new habit easier to build and stick to.
4 Simple Ways to Make Exercise a Habit
Take Note of How Each Workout Benefits You
The benefits you reap from exercise are vast: more energy, greater focus, a better mood, improved digestion… the list goes on. It’s not all about burning calories and losing weight.
Each time you exercise, reflect on how the activity made you feel. Journal it down or share it with a loved one or accountability partner. With time, you will begin to develop a closer relationship with physical activity that keeps you motivated and reminds you of its importance.
Start with Something Super Small
Don’t start off thinking you’ve got to hit the gym treadmill five days a week. If you don’t already exercise regularly, start with something small — so small that you can’t not get up and do it.
- Mowing your lawn
- Taking a nature walk in the park down the street
- Dancing to your favorite playlist
- A few easy yoga stretches
Make Your Goals Basic but Detailed
Don’t just make a goal to lose 20 lbs this year and go to the gym as often as you can. Resolve to improve your health and maybe wean off a medication. Make a short list of S.M.A.R.T. goals – goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. You should be able to track your progress and expect gradual improvements that are measurable with time.
Base Exercise around What You Like to Do
Everyone works out differently. Some people LOVE the gym or going to neighborhood group fitness camps. Others like using equipment set up in the privacy of their home, or getting out in nature. Try to incorporate physical activity into your existing lifestyle and interests.
- Take after-dinner walks or bike rides with your family
- Go hiking on the weekends in state parks or local nature parks
- Kayak or canoe in a neighborhood lake or nearby river
- Join an intramural sports team in your neighborhood
Habit First, Results Later
Finally, focus on the habit first rather than pressing to see results right away. It takes approximately 30 – 60 days to build a habit. In that time, concentrate on making the habit stick — not on what the scale says. Reflect on how the activity made you feel physically and mentally, but don’t dwell on making short-term changes that are actually achieved long-term.