How to Make Exercising a Habit

A woman doing a squat beside the words "Making Exercising a Habit"

Have you started neglecting your health and fitness routine? If so, then you’re not alone. For most people, starting an exercise plan is easy enough—but sticking to it is an entirely different story. Consider, for example, the fact that less than 10% of people actually stick with their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle.

Making exercise a true habit isn’t easy, and it requires a lot of planning and dedication. One study has found that it takes about 21 days of doing something consistently for it to become a habit—and exercise is no exception.

Ready to get serious about incorporating exercise into your everyday life? Here are some practical yet effective tips you can start following today to make it happen:

Start With Realistic Expectations

One of the main reasons people quit exercising is that they feel discouraged by a lack of immediate results, or they’re pushing themselves too hard to begin with. This is why it’s so important to set realistic expectations for yourself from the very beginning.

For example, if you’ve never run a mile in your life, it’s probably not wise to start training for a marathon right away. Instead, start with small and reasonable goals that you’ll actually be able to attain within a reasonable timeframe. This will help to keep you feeling motivated rather than discouraged.

Find Ways to Make it Fun

If you hate running, then forcing yourself to get up at 5 AM every day for a run is a recipe for failure. The key to incorporating fitness into your everyday life long term is to find activities that you enjoy partaking in. This way, you’ll actually look forward to your daily exercise rather than absolutely dreading it, which will make you more likely to stick with it.

Take some time to brainstorm ideas for physical activities that you’d actually enjoy. Whether it’s spending an hour on an exercise bike while getting lost in a new book or playing a sport, anything is fair game as long as it gets you moving!

Keep Yourself Accountable

A little bit of accountability can go a long way when it comes to sticking with your daily exercise goals. One of the best ways to increase your accountability is to find an exercise buddy who has similar health and fitness goals as you. From there, you can make an effort to go to the gym together each day, or at least report back to each other on your daily workouts. Signing up for group fitness classes can be another great way to increase accountability since your instructor and other classmates will likely take notice if you don’t show up.

Another way to increase accountability is to start a progress blog or post on social media about your workouts and progress. Knowing that others are following along on your health and fitness journey may be just the extra motivation you need to stick with it.

Set Out Your Gear

If you want to get your exercise out of the way first thing in the morning but are not a morning person, try setting out your workout gear near your bed so you have one less excuse not to work out. Some people will even sleep in their workout clothes so that they’re ready to go as soon as they wake up.

Don’t Let Yourself Get Bored

When you stick with the same workouts for too long, not only can you get bored, but you can stop seeing results as your body “adjusts” to the exercise. This can be discouraging. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to mix up your workouts and keep them interesting. Consider, for example, using one day a week to try something new; this could be something as simple as trying out a new weight machine at the gym to signing up for a new fitness class you’ve never tried.

Mixing things up is a great way to prevent burnout and stick with the program.

Set (And Celebrate) Small Milestones

Setting small goals and allowing yourself to celebrate achieving them is another great way to make daily exercise a habit. For example, rather than setting a goal of losing 20 pounds, why not aim for weight loss in five-pound increments? Each time you achieve a five-pound milestone, treat yourself to a new piece of workout gear or some other small indulgence.

Don’t Indulge in Total Cheat Days

Last but not least, don’t allow yourself to take complete cheat days. These are often a slippery slope that can lead to you faltering on your goals completely. Instead, consider a weekly “cheat meal,” but never day a day off from exercising. Even on rest days, you should be making an effort to get moving in a low-impact way.

By following these tips, you’ll make daily exercise a true habit in no time. Looking for more help with getting into an exercise routine? Texas FITT is here for you!