Building the exercise habit

Building the exercise habit

It may seem an obvious question- but what is a habit? We usually think of it as something done regularly. More importantly, a habit is something that we find difficult to stop. So with most of us needing more exercise, making fitness a habit will definitely do us good.

We are all somewhat lazy by nature, a relic of the cave days when we had to conserve limited calories. When we didn’t know where the next meal was coming from, there was no energy to waste. Now many of us have too much food, so not moving enough will have the obvious effect of increased weight gain.

To fight these inherited tendencies we need to work hard to create good habits. Try some of these:

Dream big, but plan small

It's important to have a goal to work towards, but it is equally important to focus on the small things we need to do each day in order to achieve that goal. So if your goal is to run a 10 minute mile, focus on how much time you need to put in on the treadmill each day. Breaking the activity down into small chunks is a great way of tricking your brain into making a habit of it.

Give yourself a solid timeline

The old theory goes that it takes 21 days to make a habit, but just to be sure, it's a good idea to set yourself a target of one calendar month. This makes it easy to track your progress, as well as giving you a clear block of time to commit to. Think, Go Sober for October.

Create triggers

Leaving physical reminders in your home or office is a great way to keep your new habit on track. Try a post it on the bathroom mirror, or leave your gymbag at the front door, whatever it takes to keep your daily goal at the front of your mind.

Don't let setbacks get to you

If you miss a gym session or a run, don’t beat yourself up, and don't throw in the towel. Just make sure you go to the next one.

Make it fun

Of course we are much more likely to do an activity that we enjoy. The great news is that it has been proved that exercise is more effective when it is fun. With so much choice in fitness classes and sports, there is bound to be something that suits you.

We all talk too much about bad habits. Let’s be positive and work on the good habits, starting with exercise.

Comments

Emma C.
20 August 2014

Emma C.

Get an encouraging partner who keeps fit too! My hubbie spurs me on and motivates me to get out and do it when I'm saying I might skip a gym session.

Sasha B.
1 August 2014

Sasha B.

I would also say routine is key to sticking to it. Exercise at the same time, on the same day each week. Then you don't have to think about it. And if I think about it I don't want to do it!

craig t.
31 July 2014

craig t.

it's easy to slip into unhealthy habits, not so easy to take on healthy ones, The key word is commitment.

Roger B.
25 July 2014

Roger B.

I also like the idea of being lazy by evolution - but as I don't have mammoths to hunt, I'd better take some exercise!

Olivia C.
24 July 2014

Olivia C.

The physical reminders are good ones for me. A reminder of what my goal is kick starts me into the habit.

Pete R.
23 July 2014

Pete R.

Love the way we're all "lazy by nature"! Fear some use this as excuse not to exercise!!

Sarah L.
23 July 2014

Sarah L.

keeping a sense of proportion, and having fun - good life philosophies!

Joseph M.
22 July 2014

Joseph M.

I've always struggled with setbacks, whenever I miss a session I find it harder to get going the next day but I'm getting better at managing them. It's not the end of the world!

Tanya M.
21 July 2014

Tanya M.

Can't agree with the last point more! It has to be fun or it just isn't sustainable.

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