How To Make Exercise A Habit?
Almost everybody has, at one time or another, felt the need to exercise. The reasons will range from self-esteem issues to health and a better quality of life. However, one of the greatest barriers to making this dream a reality is that of turning exercise into a habit. A one day burst of activity will simply not do. It takes grit to make your dream body a reality finally. So, how do you go about maintaining the initial momentum?
How to Make Exercise a Habit?
Variety is Key
Most people view exercise as some activities that has to be done following a particular pattern every day. When they miss a gym session or an aerobics class, they feel that they have not exercised on that day. This is the wrong approach. Going on a guilt trip over a missed exercise regimen will demotivate you to the point of giving up altogether. A more prudent approach is to engage in a substitute physical activity to replace the missed session. Taking a bike ride or brisk walk in the evening will effectively replace the gym activity you missed earlier on.
A variant of this approach is to do different exercises on alternate days. Aerobic classes could alternate with gym sessions and biking with jogging. You can also try at home programs. For example, thirty minutes are enough when following the P90X3 workout guide. Alternating routines is particularly important if you enjoy one activity more than the other.
Know Your Preferences
People are more likely to keep to something they enjoy. Some people enjoy contact sports while others feel uncomfortable in the midst of crowds. An activity like swimming will appeal to someone who does not want to be all hot and sweaty after exercises. Teaming up with a friend in a fun sport like badminton is also a great motivator to help you stick to a routine. Rick Macci, who was the coach for the famous William sisters, describes how their tennis game only came to life when they were competing against each other as kids.
Routine is King
Exercise becomes a habit when it follows a routine. To achieve this, get a specific time to exercise every day without fail. Most people prefer early morning as the time to engage in a brisk physical activity. The body is rested in the morning. There are also fewer distractions.
A swim or run makes you more alert and energized to meet the day’s challenges. With time, you will even feel something wrong if you miss this daily routine. If it is not possible to have a morning routine, the next best time is in the evening. You can take the dog for a walk or join a group that works out daily.
Psychologists say that forming a habit requires consistency. One study in 2009 said that, on average, it takes about 68 days for a habit to form. This means that any day you skip your exercise program will be a setback to forming a habit. Do not allow distractions from any quarters when it is time to exercise. Your friends will, in time, come to see the exercise routine as part of your personality and respect it. For the first days, you can slot in a few recovery days for your body to adjust to the new strain you place on it. However, start at a low intensity before gradually increasing it with time.
You are more inclined to achieve your desired objective if you are constantly reminded of it. If you haphazardly pursue your exercise, you may get discouraged by the lack of results. To get over this hurdle, a good idea would be to write down what you hope to achieve right from the outset. You can have daily, weekly, and monthly targets. Achieving them keeps you motivated. Oprah Winfrey says that she won her battle with weight loss when she changed her target from a number on the scale to a lifestyle goal. That is how powerful a target is.
Together with the targets, you should also keep a log of your achievements. Progress is gradual but so is retrogression. To stay motivated, you should see the results of your effort. If your logs show that you are improving every day, this will help you stay motivated enough to want to continue. By the time you realize your initial objective, you will not want to stop as the exercise will have become a way of life.
Over time, exercise can become a drag. It can start feeling like a punishment, especially in the early days when your muscles are sore, and you feel you don’t have the energy to continue. You feel that the objective is still a long way off. The best way to shrug off this discouragement is to reward yourself after hitting each of the smaller targets. A movie, CD of your favorite singer, or sports watch will do.
To reap the benefits of exercise, you need to keep your eyes on the prize constantly. Behavior change is tough, and rewards will help you overcome discouragement. Treat every obstacle towards this end as an enemy and any motivation as an ally. This way, your goal of making exercise part of your lifestyle will succeed.