“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty”
This is the sort of quote that comes to mind when thinking about making exercise a habit.
It’s something that is so worth doing, as it provides so many benefits in many aspects of our lives. But it is also something that, at first, can be pretty hard.
Exercise is the kind of habit that almost everyone can benefit from. That’s why we put together the 5 most effective steps you can take to add this life-changing habit into your daily routine.
What are good exercise habits?
1. Create a habit of starting
The whole process of convincing yourself to workout can be exhausting in itself. Often we spend 10 minutes debating whether or not we should work out before we even start getting dressed (or end up skipping the workout).
However, by making the process of starting easier, you’re way more likely to workout consistently.
How can you do this?
Make a habit of starting.
For example, if you want to include morning workouts into your daily routine you could do the following:
- Make prepping your clothes the night before a habit. It’s often easier to develop a new habit by attaching it onto an existing habit. So you can add this onto your nightly teeth-brushing-ritual. Every night, after brushing your teeth, neatly lay out your gym gear for the next day. Try doing this every single night.
- Then, in the morning, make a habit of waking up an hour earlier to put on those workout clothes. You may not get to the gym on the first day, but at least you made way more progress compared to sleeping in. So hi-five yourself! Continue adding on these small habits until you are finally able to get out the door and into the gym each day. You can do it!
But why would you bother start with something so small?
There’s heaps of reasons. One big reason is because if the habit is small, you are more likely see it as manageable, meaning that you are also more likely to actually do it and eventually lead up to something bigger. If you start with something huge, you’ll risk being left thinking about it a lot but never actually doing it.
So start small. Be proud of your progress. And build on from there.
Schedule in time to create and perform your starting exercise habit.
2. Write your exercise habit out
The British Journal of Health Psychology found that 91% of people who planned their intention to adopt a new exercise habit, by writing down when and where they would exercise, would end up workout the following week. This technique is called implementation intentions.
This compared, to those a part of the study who read motivational material about exercise and didn’t plan their intention had shown no increase of working out to do so.
Try writing this simple, yet powerful sentence:
During the next week, I will exercise on (day) at (time of day) at/in (this location).
Fill in the blanks for the above sentence and write it out (on paper). This will help you adopt a new habit. It’s also a good idea to know when the best time to workout suits you!
3. Make exercise non-negotiable
Most of the time, we start off strong with a new habit. But then, as soon as we say “no” to a day, this leads us to skip the next day, and the next one, and so on. So just don’t give yourself the option to say no anymore.
Pick a day where you cannot say no to exercise no matter what. You can start with just 1 day a week where you always exercise. Then after a month of that, make it 2 days when you always exercise, until you build up to the amount of days you want.
Pick 1 day for the next 4 few weeks where you CANNOT say no to your workout. At the end of the 4 weeks, if you’re ready, add another day.
4. Take it in two’s
When you’re really not feeling it. Here is your back up plan:
The 2-minute rule.
Physics states that those things which are already still, stay still. While those things which are already moving will continue moving. You can apply this concept to your daily life.
By starting something for 2 minutes, it’s likely that you will keep on moving.
The 2-minute rule encourages you to focus on doing something related to your habit for just two minutes. This could mean telling yourself to spend two minutes to get out of bed and put on your training gear.
By committing to a small 2 minutes you will be “getting the ball rolling” on your habit, meaning you are more likely to keep on moving.
Many times, a 2-minute start is enough to pump up the motivation inside you to finish the task. On the days where it’s not though, that’s fine! Small steps. Still see it as a success. (As long as it’s not on your “non-negotiable” day as discussed in the previous point).
Decide on what your 2-minute habit is. This could be the same as your “starting-exercise-habit” discussed in point 1. Write it out, on your phone or wherever, and commit to doing it every day at the same time.
Take it 2 weeks at a time
Compare these two goals:
“I will work out 5 days a week from now until forever”
“I will work out 5 days a week for just two more weeks”
Obviously the second one sounds way more doable and motivating. The first one, although we might not ever actually say those words explicitly, is something we often imply to ourselves when thinking of committing to a workout routine.
Instead of thinking that you will have to do this forever, tell yourself “I only have to do this for two weeks”. Once you’ve committed to 2 weeks 4 times, you’re likely to have already made it a habit.
A great way to track this and stay inspired is by grabbing a calendar and highlighting the day 2 weeks from now. Cross off each day you do work out on the calendar for these two weeks.
5. Quiet down the excuses
One of the main reasons we fail to exercise when the time comes is because our brain is SO FULL of excuses that we just start to believe we cannot do it. A great way to deal with this is to drown out the excuses with some music that you LOVE or a motivational speech.
The night before, load your choice of inspiring sounds or music onto your phone. You can even choose a motivational speech. When you wake up, set it up and press play. Listen to this while you’re getting ready to go workout.
Make exercise a habit with us!
Each of the steps above stick to the main principle of this post: start small. By starting small you will 100% achieve that amazing goal you have set out in your mind. Remember, you got this!