4 Easy Ways to Make Exercise a Habit
Core - Edition Nº18
Regular exercise is essential and good for us, yet studies by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) found that only 22.9% of adults meet weekly exercise requirements. So the important question: why don’t enough people want to exercise? What’s not to love about it?
The problem people often have with exercise is it feels like a chore. As if it’s just another item to scribble off your to-do list. And even then, it’s usually at the bottom of the pile. Work deadlines, family demands or the compulsive need to binge a TV show or film series usually takes precedence.
To love exercise, you need to change how you think about it—focusing on how it can be fun and enjoyable. People who enjoy their workouts get more out of the benefits. Such as greater improvements to their mental health through lower stress levels and a reduced risk of depression.
Besides prioritising a healthy and disciplined routine, your fitness needs to become something you want to work on rather than something you have to do. It’s about stopping it from feeling like an obligation or punishment.
It’s crucial to make exercise feel like play because few people genuinely want to do it. If you’re going to make it a habit, you need to find a way or two to stick to it. And these subtle changes make all the difference.
So, here are four.
Select the exercises you enjoy
It’s impossible to enjoy something you feel forced to do. Who would want to start off their fitness journey with an intense 6-week boot camp when you can start with short relaxing walks instead?
For example, my love for cycling makes it easy to do strenuous exercise because I enjoy being out on my bike and going fast. The adrenaline rush you get on a descent or when pushing keeps me hooked, and I almost forget how much weight I can lose in the process.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone
Sure, healthy competition is beneficial to some. But many people use it as a comparison to ultimately put themselves down. It’s hard not to do that, but it’s also self-destructive. And it’s not something we only do in the gym; we also do it at work, at home, and when we’re out with our friends.
Negative self-talk in one situation can easily make any future experience seem like a bad one. Rather, focus on gamification. In school, gold stars and funky badges were the pinnacles of happiness and motivation. Today, fitness apps never shy away from using cute ways to gamify your exercise experience and encourage you to push for more.
Treating exercise as a game or competition with your past records can increase your enjoyment and produce better results. Turn it into a tool for handling stress or letting yourself have time to switch off in this always-on world. It’ll improve your relationship with exercise as it naturally becomes a fundamental part of your routine. Because it’s all about looking forward to working out.
Turn exercise into a reward
If you view exercise as a punishment, you’re setting yourself up for failure before you’ve begun. It induces an approach to your workout that attaches a sense of guilt and disappointment. It’s why a study in the Journal of Health Psychology of 100 women found that the more dissatisfied they were with their bodies, the less likely they were to exercise.
But, if you view exercise as a reward for your hard work or as a moment for stress relief, you’ll build a mindset focused on enjoyment. It takes time and practice to create this, but it’s unquestionably worth it.
Match your routine to your personality
It’s difficult to enjoy working out when forcing yourself to follow someone else’s schedule. It fails to match your personality and style, and, sooner or later, you’ll start looking forward to getting it over and done with.
Use your ideal environment and personal goals to tailor your workout. Ask yourself: do I like social workouts, or do I really want some alone time? Do I prefer fast-paced workouts, or do I need some Zen to learn how to slow things down for once? The best routine is the one sculpted in line with your personality.
Believe it or not, you can have fun in the gym (or wherever you choose). Better fitness is hardly about how solid your routine is or how much you can lift; it’s about what you enjoy and how much you want to do of it.