The hardest part of a new fitness routine is sticking with it. Maybe it lasts a week, or 2 weeks, but distractions come up, and motivation is lost. The key is to develop a fitness habit.
Habits are repeated routines that become natural, automatic parts of your daily life, like brushing your teeth and showering.
They take time to develop, about 66 days (2 months). Try these 10 tips for establishing a habit of working out:
1. Create accountability.
If you have any friends or family members who are also starting a fitness routine, do it together!
Sign up for classes, groups, or a trainer. Being accountable to another person at a specific time is a great motivator.
2. Keep a schedule.
Make appointments for yourself, and set reminders. Pick a time of day that will work with your schedule. This could be on your work commute, or right after you wake up in the morning.
The important thing is to pick a time that will be easy to commit to, and don’t stray from it.
3. Start with simple exercises.
Not sure where to begin? Start simply. Roll out of bed in the morning and do a simple exercise.
Try 10 push-ups, sit-ups, or some jumping jacks. Don’t stress over doing a full 30-60 minute routine right away.
Just start with 2 minutes, and work your way up over time. Don’t over-do it, or you risk burning out.
4. Focus on getting started.
Instead of trying to make a habit of the activity, focus on the starting point. That could be the act of stepping onto a yoga mat, making the turn into the gym parking lot, or just changing into your workout clothes.
Once those starting points become habit, following through with the activity becomes far more likely.
5. Don’t worry about results.
Usually, people start working out with a specific goal in mind. The goal might be weight loss, gains in strength, or increased endurance. These can distract from developing your basic habits.
Once you’ve spent 2 months making a habit of getting started every day, then you can start focusing on longer-term goals.
6. Enjoy yourself.
Choose exercises and activities that you actually enjoy. If you like what you’re doing, you’re more likely to follow through.
7. Avoid getting bored.
Repeating the same activity every day can get boring quickly, and doesn’t give your body time to recover.
Find a few different activities, and alternate them. That could mean focusing on different muscle groups on different days, or adding activities like swimming, tennis, or yoga into the mix.
8. Activities with friends.
Think about the types of activities you do with your friends. Instead of going out to lunch or a movie, suggest fun group activities like hiking, canoeing, or walking around in a large space, like a museum or botanical garden.
9. Remove obstacles.
It’s easy to talk yourself out of exercising. Maybe you forgot your gym clothes, or you need to do groceries.
Plan ahead. Layout your clothes the day before, and keep your workout bag in a visible place.
Do groceries on the weekend, and try to fit in errands during your lunch break.
10. Don’t skip a day.
While it’s true that periods of recovery are necessary in a fitness routine, taking a day off will derail the process of developing a habit. Try a lighter activity such as walking, or an easy bike ride.
In the end, what matters is that you find a way that works for you. Don’t worry about how other people are going about it, and don’t obsess over past failures.
Even 2 minutes a day for 2 months is a great success. Take 2 minutes and just get started. The rest will follow.