Exercise is good for our health, but it’s SO hard to stick to! Here are some tips on how to make exercise a habit.
Exercise was never at the top of my priority list.
Growing up, I didn’t really do sports. I was happy to sit at home and play video games all day. And that continued all the way through marriage and until right after I had my daughter Allison.
It wasn’t until a trip to the ER in 2015 that I realized I was putting my health in jeopardy and needed to make a change. After doing some research, I learned that a healthy diet plus exercise could prevent my strange heart palpitations from coming back. I wasn’t perfect, but I managed to make these things part of my every day life!
Do you struggle with making exercise a habit, too? It’s not easy, but these tips are things that I’ve personally tried and had success with. Read over them and see if you can find one that resonates with you!
How long does it take to make exercise a habit?
I’ve always been under the impression that it takes 21 days to make a habit. And for some, that’s true. But according to research, it actually takes an average of 66 days- but anywhere between 18 and 255 days. (Source)
But don’t let that discourage you! Instead, let it give you some relief knowing that you’re still a work in progress, even after 21 days. Let me tell you, it took longer than 21 days to make working out a habit for me. I’d say it was about 2 months before I was regularly waking up early for my workout.
Is it okay to exercise every day?
In most cases, some form of daily exercise is good for you. It boosts your mood, increases your energy levels, reduces pain, and improves sleep quality. (Source)
You really need to listen to your body on this one. Too much exercise can be dangerous if you’re not physically prepared, like an athlete. Usually, 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise is plenty. I do a planned 20-30 minute workout every morning, 6 days a week, and go for a walk every day and that’s all I need.
How to make exercise a habit
Do it at the same time every day
This is a big one. When can you carve out at least 30 minutes for a workout? In the evening after work? Or in the early morning before the kids wake up? If you can find a time that doesn’t change based on your daily schedule, you’ll better set yourself up for success.
When I started working out, Allison was 18 months old and I knew I had to do early mornings or else I couldn’t fit it in. I started out at 6:00 AM, then eventually moved it to 5:30 AM, which has been my consistent workout time for the past couple years.
Put it on your calendar
Is your calendar your lifeline? As a whole, we are all so busy now that we NEED to write things down or else we’ll forget.
Whether it’s a paper calendar or your phone, pick your workout time and stick it on your schedule. Even better if you have a “check box” option that gives you a sense of success marking it off your list.
Lay out your workout clothes every night
If you put something important right in front of you, you’re more likely to remember it. Same with your workouts. It’s much easier to get your exercise in when your past self gives your future self an easy route to success.
Either lay out your workout clothes the night before, or even sleep in them. I mean, you’re wearing them, so you might as well use them, right?
Find an exercise you enjoy
Listen, you’re not going to find every workout fun. You may not enjoy running but love biking. You may despise one trainer but love another. Find an exercise that you LOVE; it’ll be easier for you to stay consistent if you love what you do.
I personally don’t enjoy the workout videos where I jump around, do burpees, and do all the high-impact stuff. That’s why I loved PiYo so much, and continue to do it (and teach it!) to this day. It’s okay not to love weights, and it’s okay not to love cardio.
Make keeping track fun
What will make it more likely for you to stick with exercise? Are you a checklist person and enjoy marking things off your list? Or maybe into bullet journals where you can be creative and color?
One app I used for awhile was Habit RPG, now called Habitica. I’m a huge gamer, so I loved having a character that leveled up whenever I crossed things off my to-do list. That was a HUGE motivator for me.
I go more into depth on exercise in my NEW course, Weight Loss Kickstart! Originally a group program, I modified it into a self-paced course (and at a lower price, too!) so you can take your time with it and learn the healthy habits that come with weight loss.
Want more like this? Check out the other posts in my Healthy Habits, Healthy Life series!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.