Skip to main content

3 ways to make exercise a habit

I really should start exercising

Does that sound familiar? You know that exercise reduces the chance of chronic illness, helps with mental health, helps you sleep better and helps with weight loss. You know that the US Department of Health recommends people exercise 150 minutes a week. You can even find different 340 million exercise routines in a single Google search. Yet, you are still staying “I really should start exercising.”

Why don’t people exercise?

First things first, 0.0625% of the population have a medical condition that means they can’t exercise at all. For the rest of us, if we consult with a medical or fitness professional, we can find some form of exercise that we can do. The first hurdle to exercise is the excuses we tell ourselves.
  • “I hate exercising.” If you hate exercise you need to find a different exercise. Exercise should be fun! If running on the treadmill at the gym isn’t enjoyable, find something that is! Join an ultimate frisbee team, start mountain biking, get a dog. Anything that gets you moving is exercise. If you enjoy the activity, you are far more likely to make it a habit.
  • “I don’t have time to exercise.” Exercising doesn’t have to be time consuming. You don’t have to do your 150 minutes of exercise in one go (Infact you shouldn’t!) You don’t even have to do your 30 minutes of exercise a  day in one go. In fact research has shown that doing 10 minutes of exercise three times a day is as good as doing 30 minutes once a day. Even just 10 minutes has noticeable benefits. Learn how to find time to exercise.
  • “I’m too tired to exercise.” As strange as it sounds, exercising actually makes you feel more energized. Making exercise a habit will help you do it even when you don’t feel like you can.
  • “I am too unfit to exercise.” The key to building any habit is to start small and build up. If you don’t do exercise at the moment and you start parking at the back of the parking lot when you go to the store – guess what, you are exercising! Start so small you can’t not do it – and then slowly increase it. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Just because someone else can run a marathon doesn’t diminish your accomplishment of going for a 10 minute walk. You both had to work hard. Congratulate yourself for small wins.

Before you start

If you haven’t exercised in a while:
  1. Consult a medical professional to make sure your exercise routine is safe for you.
  2. Remember to warm up before you exercise.
  3. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  4. Listen to your body.
  5. Start small and celebrate small wins.

How to make exercise a habit

Remember the 3 parts to every habit: reminder, routine and reward.
Set yourself a reminder. 
Make sure you have a mechanism to remind you to exercise. Don’t rely on memory and certainly don’t rely on motivation. Block out time in your calendar. Set a reminder on your phone. Leave your walking shoes on the drivers seat of your car. Link exercising to something you already do. Every habit starts with a reminder – and if you aren’t reminded, guess what – you won’t do it.
Pick a realistic routine.
As you are deciding what form of exercise to start, ask yourself “what could get in the way of me doing this?” When either take steps to counter that, or tweak your routine accordingly. Start so small you can’t not do it. Remember any amount of exercise is better than no exercise. Yes you might want to go for a 60 minute walk, but if 15 minutes is all you can do – then that’s OK. As a former boss used to say “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
Reward yourself
Find a way to “reward” yourself for exercising. Keeping track of your progress is a reward in and of itself. Learn more about this with the 3 notes method of habit formation. Reward yourself with a hot bath if that’s your thing. Or get yourself a nice cup of starbucks. Or allow yourself to watch one episode of Real Housewives of Jersey Shore after you have exercised. Just find something nice to reward yourself with.


Everyone can exercise – even you!
Start so small you can’t not do it.
Make your exercise realistic.
Reward yourself.


Popular posts from this blog

Be Happy. Go For A Good Walk.

One of the best ways to boost your happiness is to get in to the habit of going for a Good Walk.

How to change your eating habits and lose weight

The top New Years Resolution year after year is to lose weight. The first tactic people usually try when losing weight is to start exercising. Going for a 30 minute run will burn about 400 calories. That’s about the same amount of calories as a single donut. You can’t outrun your plate! Exercise has a whole host of benefits but contributing to weight loss for most people is not one. If you want to lose weight you are going to have to change your eating habits. Habit 1. Drink more water.
People often confuse thirst with hunger. If you think you are hungry get in to the habit of drinking a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes. If you are still hungry then, go for it. As an added bonus, having a glass of zero calorie water in your stomach will help you feel full sooner.

Habit 2. Get enough sleep.
People often make up for having low energy because they are tired by eating. Make sure you go to bed at a time that gives you eight hours of sleep. Sticking to a consistent bedtime seven days a we…

What is WOOP and how can it help me achieve my goals?

WOOP is a science based mental strategy people can use to fulfill their wishes, set preferences and change their habits. The technique is based on 20 years of research and was developed by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen. The scientific name for it is Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions. Mental Contrasting is the concept comparing your future wish with your current reality. Implementation Intentions are the practice of deciding in advance what you will do in a given situation. 
WOOP is short for:
W - Wish. O - Outcome. O - Obstacles. P - Plan.
WISH The first step is to name a wish that is challenging but feasible. Set a time frame for the wish. Ask yourself if the wish is dear to you and if it's challenging yet achievable. Once you are done, note it down in 3 - 6 words. Pause and really picture it in your head.
For example: I want to exercise more.
OUTCOME Then think about the very best outcome and imagine it. What would the biggest benefit to achieving your wish be? How would…