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Sticking to an exercise habit is something that I think we all struggle with. We know that exercise is good for us, but we struggle to fit it in each day and make it a priority.
Take me for example, I used to have various “health kicks” through my life where I’d try running at least 3 times per week (I hate running), or yoga every single morning for a month. But inevitably, I would end up right back where I started – not doing anything.
Now, I exercise every single morning (with only a few exceptions), and I enjoy doing it. It wasn’t easy, but with a few simple steps, you can start an exercise habit too.
Step 1: Find your why
Why do you want to exercise? Really think about it. Why?
Because you want to get fitter? For your health? To be a good role model to your kids or family?
The key to starting off a successful exercise habit is finding a why that will motivate you to keep going – even when you don’t feel like it.
For me, I had to create a why. Despite being a qualified physio and knowing all of the reasons that I SHOULD be exercising, I still had trouble doing it.
So, I bought a dog.
I am a people pleaser, and I am a procrastinator. So unless something has to be done, and it will affect someone else if I don’t do it, I generally don’t do things. So I bought a dog.
Now I get to experience all of the benefits of exercise every single day because I HAVE to. My puppy needs exercise, so I have to go for a walk. If I didn’t have a dog who needed walking, I probably wouldn’t be in such a good exercise routine.
Now I’m not saying you need to go out and buy a dog, but sometimes finding a good motivation to get moving can be difficult. So sit down now and have a good think about it.
Some good reasons to exercise:
- It will help you to live longer
- It will help your body feel strong and supple
- It helps with stress and anxiety
- To be a good healthy role model for your kids
- To save money (i.e. walking or biking to work).
Finding your why is key, so have a good think about why exercise is important to you before you begin.
Step 2: Choose exercise that you enjoy doing
I have tried SO many different types of exercise. I have tried running, weights circuits, gym programs, spin classes, martial arts and SO many other types of exercise that I can’t even count.
Funnily enough, I never created a habit with any of them. Why? Because I didn’t like them. Sure, if weights circuits and spin classes are your thing, then DO THEM. But if you don’t like them, find something else.
What I do absolutely love doing, is walking my dog Lenny! We go for walks every single morning, otherwise he tugs on my socks until we go haha.
I also absolutely love doing Yoga and Pilates. My favourite app at the moment for Yoga and Pilates is MerryBody by Emma and Carla Papas – check it out here. Emma and Carla have such a wonderful message about body positivity and making exercise fun, I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Other fun exercise ideas could include:
- Swimming in the ocean
- Playing sport.
Read my post here about how much I hate running for a few more ideas on fun types of exercise (and a bit of a laugh too!).
Step 3: Consistency over duration
When you are beginning a new habit, it is extremely tempting to go like a bat out of hell and start with extremely long sessions.
When I started trying to run, I said I would run 4 times per week for at least 30 minutes. When that didn’t happen, I felt like a failure.
My advice? Consistency is more important than duration.
The best way to succeed at an exercise habit is to start VERY small, and slowly build up. That way you get the feeling of success each time you complete your short session, and that feeling becomes addictive.
For example, if you decided you were going to start a Yoga habit, start with something doable for you. Perhaps you could try 3 times per week for 10 minutes. Once you’ve successfully kept up your habit for a couple of weeks, you can try increasing the duration.
Sure, you may not see fitness or flexibility results as quickly this way, but you are far more likely to stick to a habit that you are successfully completing rather than one you feel like you’re failing at.
Not only do you get the benefits of exercise, but you are creating a habit that you’ll probably stick to for a long time – maybe even the rest of your life!
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful to get you on your way to creating an exercise habit that you’ll really enjoy.