Exercising is so much easier when you’re in the habit. If you can make exercise a part of your everyday routine, it becomes something that you’ll do almost automatically, instead of that constant struggle to get yourself out the door. But developing a habit can be hard. Here are some tips to help you get into the routine- and keep it…
Do something every day
To maintain good health and work towards losing weight, you should be aiming to complete around three to five decent workouts a week. But to really form a habit, it’s a good idea to do some form of exercise every day.
Pushing yourself too hard and trying to do seven full-on gym sessions a week is too much, but you can create a balance of light and intense exercise that will keep you in the habit without burning you out. Alternate between higher intensity workouts with gentler ‘recovery’ days. For example, you could decide to run four times a week and go for a gentle walk or do pilates on the other three days. That way, you’ll still give your body a chance to rest, without breaking your routine.
Set a time
If you don’t schedule in your workout for a definite time each day, you’re much more likely to put it off until you feel like it or have more time or energy, which often turns into putting it off until the next day. The next thing you know, you’re out of the habit. So choose a time that works well for you and stick with it as much as possible. Schedule it in like any other appointment or commitment, and over time you’ll find that you just automatically consider it a part of your daily routine.
When you’re starting to build up a habit, don’t try to do too much right away. You’ll probably be starting with lots of energy, enthusiasm and ambition- and that’s great. But using up all of it at once leads to burnout, which more often than not leads to quitting your habit after a few sessions. If your body isn’t used to exercising every day, you need to give it time to adjust. Starting out with 20 minutes a day, then increasing your length, speed, intensity etc over time is a good way to allow your body to get used to working out regularly.
Make it fun
Do whatever you can to make exercise seem as much like a pleasurable activity as you can. People avoid the boring and difficult- so if you can convince yourself to look forward to your workout (or at least not dread it) it will be much easier to stick to your daily routine. Figure out what you can do to make your exercise more pleasant- maybe it means regularly updating your iPod with fun new songs, or setting yourself a challenge to find new and interesting running routes. If you can, recruit a friend to make it more of a social activity.
Mix it up
If you do the exact same routine every day, you’re likely to get bored and be less inclined to keep it up. And you might not be getting the best results from your program- doing a variety of activities is a good way to use all your muscles and in different ways. Choose two or three exercises you like and alternate them on different days. Or, make slight variations to keep the same activity interesting- for example, if you’re a runner, alternate between longer endurance runs and interval sprint sessions, or even just switch between running on the treadmill and outside. If you feel yourself getting bored with your routine, change something about it or set yourself a new challenge. Then you can start to feel excited and motivated again.
Just get out there
Try not to skip days unless there really is no way you can possibly exercise- keeping up a regular routine is the best way to develop a habit. Keep your exercise gear somewhere easily accessible so all you have to do is throw it on and get out there- the more time you spend putting it off, the harder it will be to actually go. Remember that it’s always easier than you think once you get started- and you’ll feel so much better afterwards.
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