I doubt that it takes over 3 days to form a bad habit. But because exercise is such a healthy practice — plan on grinding your will power for about two months to make it routine.
If you don’t find something you really enjoy about your exercise routine, making it a habitual part of your life is hard for most people. That’s why so many people join gyms, workout a few times and never go back. According to this article, 67% of gym memberships go unused year after year.
But, like any habit, exercise is hard to give up once you fall in love with the benefits. And after it becomes a regular routine in your life you will notice how much better you feel as your body tones and looks better.
Physical activity that raises your heart rate a few times a week will improve your longterm health and fitness along with adding years to your longevity.
Habits are so difficult to get out of, that no matter how long it takes to make exercise a regular part of your life it’s worth the struggle. The rest of this post is 5 ways to take the struggle out of exercising, and they are all time tested and proven to work.
Making Exercise A Habit
Even knowing how important regular exercise is to staying healthy and fit, it’s easy to either discount it completely or get discouraged and quit. What we need is something to keep us motivated.
1. Choosing Something Over Nothing
Somedays, a million things come to mind that I should do other than exercise. Some of those days it just seems like there will be no way to fit in a run or a trip to the gym. I will hear the voices telling me things like: “What’s the point? You’ll only have 30 minutes, and it will be a half-assed attempt anyway.”
When you hear those voices, remember that you are building a habit and showing up is the only thing you need to do. I know my life, health, and fitness is worth an hour 3-5 times a week, but sometimes I only have 1/2 an hour. That’s life, but forcing this into your life means willing your self to workout on your scheduled days.
Always choose something over nothing. Remember, no matter how you get it done, the most important thing is not how long. How long comes later. The first step is showing up, even if it’s for just a few minutes. After a while, you will have it hardcoded into your brain, that it’s important and habitual.
2. Schedule Your Life Around Exercise
At this time, the length of your workout session isn’t as important as making it a regular practice. What we’re talking about here is making it a priority in your life. Most people who find it easy to skip an hour of exercise, wouldn’t skip a meal if they’re life depended on it. Eating has become a priority, and that’s how you must view your exercise practice.
Start scheduling your life around this time instead of trying to work it into your life. The fact is – regular physical activity is actually just as important to your health as eating. Here’s how to schedule exercise into your life:
- Take some time to think of your own reasons why exercise is important to you personally.
- Decide how much time you will devote to it each week. (The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 2 1/2 – 5 hours a week of moderate exercise a week.)
- Make a decision about which days of the week, and what time you will show up.
For the best results, write it down and pin to the refrigerator door so you can’t escape it. Now, when something else interferes with your schedule, don’t be bashful about saying no! I know you would about mealtime, so just make this just as important as going to dinner or work.
3. Find Someone Else To Exercise With You
If you’ve been going from work to grab a beer, going to workout instead is going to be challenging at first. Not only is your new routine now affecting your lifestyle, but those who have been enjoying your company every afternoon. This is often the biggest obstacle to changing things in your life, but you can do it.
The best way to turn this time into a new habit is find someone to exercise with you. You may know someone who is already into building muscle, running, walking, or whatever activity you’ve chosen. Not only will you have company, but you may also have a mentor to help you get the most out of your time. If you’ don’t have someone like this, you may be surprised at the results of asking if someone would like to join you. Maybe they’ve been thinking the same thing as you about making fitness a goal.
Most important, is the knowledge that someone to exercise with can help you stay motivated until it does become a habit. Even if not particularly competitive by nature, having someone to workout with will up your own game. Both of you will find yourselves pushing limits and getting the most benefits from your physical activity.
4. Exercise Habits Come Faster When You Like It
You have on your mind that physical activity needs to be a habit, but if you’re new to exercising you don’t really know what you like and don’t like. Face it, if you hate lifting weights, there’s no point in trying to make yourself change your mind. However, if you haven’t tried it, you will never know if you like it or not?
You may think there’s no way you would like walking or running, but wind up loving it. And when you find something you like, doing it 3 or 4 times a week, it will fit naturally into your life. If you are trying to make something you don’t like habitual, it’s a lost cause from the start.
If you’re not sure what to do for exercise it may be good to try several different options until you find something you like doing enough to enjoy it. When you’re exercising or working out and it feels like a chore, you simply won’t last long at it. Experiment with several different forms until you find something you can see as a long-lasting routine.
5. Try High Intensity Interval Training For Shorter Workouts
This exercise method is certainly more challenging but takes far less time and HIIT workouts are very effective. Even though you don’t necessarily do HIIT for months or years at a time, it will help you see results fast. Those results are usually undeniable and can help you build a habit faster.
With HIIT you will get stronger faster and build endurance levels in no time. The benefits are amazing, and if you are into toning up and losing weight, there’s nothing quite like it. You will work hard for 15 minutes or less and it’s over, but the calorie burn can go on for hours and hours.
When you’re attempting to make exercising a routine part of life and miss a day, don’t beat yourself up and get discouraged. Forget keeping a perfect track record, and focus on the benefits. How you feel about it the first month or two will set up how your new tradition works out long term.
How long it takes for anything to become a habit always hinges on what you are getting out of it, doesn’t it? I don’t have anything I do habitually and voluntarily that I hate doing. So, the answer is to find some way of making exercise fun or enjoyable and you will find a way to make it a regular routine without resenting the time spent.