Why do so many New Year’s resolutions to get in shape tend to crash and burn before the end of February rolls around? It’s not that the majority of people simply don’t have what it takes, but it’s because people aren’t building habits that last. Scientific research indicates that there are ways to build lasting habits.
This year, keep your healthy living resolution alive into the spring and the rest of the year. The following steps will help make exercise a habit that sticks.
Exercising 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week is an ideal END goal that you need to build up to. Starting too hard and too fast and setting unrealistic expectations will make you more likely to fail. Failure will make you feel bad and give up. It’s better to start with easy exercise goals that you know you can achieve. Meeting these achievable goals helps build self-confidence and momentum, so you can move on to more challenging goals.
Choose activities that you enjoy
Do things that make you feel happy and confident. If you choose an exercise routine that is unpleasant or makes you feel clumsy or inept, you will be unlikely to stick with it. Pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste. If you don’t feel comfortable in a gym or on a treadmill, try physical activities like trampolines, dodge ball or soccer.
Set yourself on auto-pilot
Make exercise an automatic part of your day by creating triggers. Triggers are one of the secrets to success when it comes to forming an exercise habit. Selecting triggers, like a time of day, place, or cue that kicks off an automatic reaction to exercise, helps to put your routine on autopilot. For example, set your watch alarm and promptly leave for your walk, or go to the gym before work and plan to take your shower and get ready for your day at the gym.
People who exercise regularly enjoy to do so because of the long-term rewards exercise brings them, such as higher energy levels, restful sleep, and more confidence. When starting an exercise program, it’s important to give yourself immediate rewards when you successfully complete a workout or reach a new fitness goal. Choose something you look forward to, but don’t allow yourself to do until after exercise. It can be something as simple as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee. Avoid rewarding yourself with candy or fatty foods, as that will offset your health goals.
Set yourself up for success
Consider exercise a priority and treat it like an important appointment. Mark it in your agenda and make sure you attend your exercise session on time.
Plan ahead for anything that might get in the way of exercising. If mornings are rushed, prepare your gym bag the night before and keep it by the front door for a quick exit. If you are tempted to skip your evening workout if you go home first, keep a gym bag in the car, so you can head out straight from work. If you know that you need to be at an after-work function during your usual yoga class, plan to attend a class at before or after the event, or decide to walk to the function.
Make it easy.
Plan workouts for the time of day when you’re feeling awake and energized. If you’re not a morning person, don’t plan to wake up early for a run – although other people may do that with much success, you must be realistic and fit exercise into your lifestyle.
Hold yourself accountable.
Find a workout buddy and plan to meet them at the gym. If you prefer to exercise alone, join an online community or track you fitness on an app so that you can monitor your progress.