Starting an exercise regimen is not really difficult, but making it into a daily habit can be. Most people dive in with good intentions and motivation, only to slack off and eventually give up days or weeks later. Here are some tips to stay focused and turn exercise into a daily habit.
Set your intention
Promising yourself that you will do something can be easy to break. You won’t be letting anyone down but yourself. But simply stating that you will do something in your head is different then sitting down and writing it out as a pledge. Set an intention for what days and times you vow to work out, and then write it down. Post it somewhere that you can see it every day; hang it on the mirror or set it as your phone’s background wallpaper so it’s impossible to avoid. You can even set timers on your phone to remind you of your intentions. It’s also a good idea to schedule it for the same time every day, so your body will get used to that; get it out of the way first thing in the morning, or schedule it for after work for an afternoon boost.
It’s common these days for people to jump into rigorous programs that involve intense, hour long workouts, or set goals that may just be too much for them. You don’t have to jump right on the treadmill and run for two miles your first day, or commit to one of those high-energy, exhausting plyometrics routines. Pushing yourself too hard may just make you feel negative about exercising, which can make it easier to give up on. The notion of “fast results” is not necessarily the best. In many cases, applying the compound effect philosophy (small actions done consistently) can be the best approach to forming new habits that stick.
Spice it up
If boredom is one reason for abandoning exercise routines, then mix it up. Don’t commit to one single activity, especially if you don’t enjoy it that much. Don’t like to run? That’s okay. Find some other activity that you know you will enjoy. There are so many options out there, from weight lifting to dance to cross fit, it’s easy to add variety to your exercise regime. Schedule different types of exercises on different days and then mix it up each week.
Do it together
Some people need a little push to get going, and that’s okay. If you tend to succeed in groups or with someone else, then team up. Join a class if that’s your thing, so you know you have that scheduled meeting every week. Or meet a friend at the gym at the same time each day that you pick. At home, make exercise part of the family routine. If you are shy, join an online fitness support group. Not only will this help keep you on track, but it can also make it more fun.