In Part 1, I looked at the elements necessary to create an exercise habit, and here I’ll delve deeper into how you can make sure that it lasts over the long term.
When we’re new to exercise, we may start off at a gallop and put in a lot of effort because we envision the new and improved future versions of ourselves, and we want to get there quickly – but what happens when reality hits?
The reality is everything you need to do to be able to exercise. For example, if you have a gym membership the time it takes to get to and from the gym as well as planning your workout, and having all of your workout gear with you……the list can be extensive.
Making the time to exercise and doing it involves quite a few small behaviours, and they may seem like a lot when you don’t already do them. This can be seen as onerous, and you may come to think that the reward pales in comparison to the amount of work you will have to do. It can be especially true if one of your goals for exercsing is to lose weight – a process that, if done right, is usually slow.
So, even if we really want to be fit and healthy, our exercise habit can fall by the way. How do we ensure that it doesn’t?
Schedule Exercise in your Diary & Plan Your Workouts
Scheduling and planning are both critical to success. If we don’t allocate time for exercise then it’s inevitable that other priorities will fill the void – that’s the nature of most of our lives.
Also, if we don’t plan our workouts then it can end up being a mish mash of disparate elements without structure or purpose. This won’t deliver the reward you want, and you may end up feeling defeated and demoralised.
Start Small and Build Gradually
As I mentioned in Part 1, a powerful ingredient to making exercise a habit is to believe that you can do it. So forget hardcore cardio training, or HIIT classes, at lease at first, and create a workout you know you can do. It’s the belief and mindset that will cement the exercise habit into your life.
Plan Your Rewards
Some of the rewards of exercise come naturally. Just completing a workout can give such as sense of achievement and accomplishment, which is priceless, and over time, if you’re consistent, you will crave that feeling. Exercise will give you energy and vitality and the endorphins are great too!
You can also create your own rewards and, as I mentioned in Part 1, it’s personal to every exerciser, but it needs to be one that is working for.
Quick Tips to Maintain your Exercise Habit
Try doing your workouts at the same time every day.
Create a ritual around your workout. Put on your workout clothes first thing or, if you’re leaving work, put your gym bag on the passenger seat to remind you of your goals.
Log your workouts in your diary with a simple description of what you did – this also gives the opportunity to recognise and celebrate your progress.
Do something you like. You don’t have to love it, but it should be an activity you know you can do without too much pain or discomfort.
Focus on the habit first, then the results. Too often we’re so focused on losing weight that we end up quitting when that doesn’t happen fast enough. Instead of focusing on that, focus on just doing the workouts, no matter what they are.
The key to creating, and maintaining, an exercise habit is to make it as easy as possible to do your workouts. Choose accessible activities that you like, keep your workouts simple and focus on just showing up. Getting started is sometimes the hardest thing to do, so the easier you can make it, the more successful you’ll be over the long term.