Are you one of those people who has a really hard time creating exercise habits that stick?
You’re not alone. Long work hours here in the Silicon Valley combined with multiple after-school activities for kids as well as volunteer and social commitments really eat up the hours in our days.
It’s common knowledge that regular exercise helps us maintain a healthy weight, manage stress and decrease our risk for some diseases. Even with the knowledge of how important regular exercise is to our well-being, we often don’t do it.
Becoming a regular exerciser really comes down to making physical activity a habit. Over time, your habits become part of who you are. As a San Jose personal trainer, I work with my clients on activities and behaviors that will help instill a habit of regular exercise into their lifestyle. It’s not easy, but will repeated practice, you really can become a regular exerciser. You’ll actually feel the need to exercise because you feel better when you do and worse when you don’t!
Here are my top 5 tips for making exercise a regular habit:
1) Pick an activity you enjoy
If you can’t stand doing it—you’re going to find every excuse in the book NOT to do it! If you hate swimming, just don’t even think about starting a swim program. If you really think you hate ALL forms of exercise, pick the least objectionable activity 😉 . Keep an open mind as to what the term “exercise” encompasses. You might need to move away from the concept of a regimented “workout” (say, a group exercise class) towards something we might define more as “physical activity” (perhaps a hike or a pick-up basketball game).
2) Get some social commitment
When someone else is involved—you tend to show up. Get yourself an exercise buddy. And don’t choose a flakey friend! When you have an accountability partner, you’re MUCH more likely to stick to your program. Also, because your activity involves a social component, you’ll likely enjoy it more.
3) Make it a priority
This can be really hard, but I really want you to try it. Think of your exercise program as an appointment you keep with yourself. Just like you keep a dentist appointment—schedule your exercise and SHOW UP. See #2 for a way to make it more likely that you’ll show up (get that friend or co-worker committed to you!).
4) Log your activity
Pedometers are great for counting steps and measuring your activity as are all the activity trackers out there (Jawbone, FitBit, etc). Sometimes just to get a few more steps in, you’ll take the stairs or park your car further away at the mall. I also ask my personal training clients to log how they feel while they exercise. When they look back over past months, they see how far they’ve come and how much their fitness has improved. I’ve found logging activity to be extremely motivational for many of my clients.
5) Reward yourself
Set yourself up for little challenges and rewards. For instance, if you do some sort of physical activity for X days this month, you’ll reward yourself with a trip to a sporting goods store for new gear, or perhaps you’ll gift yourself with a massage. Only reward yourself if you reach the goal you set for yourself.
Good exercise habits take time to develop. Be patient, be consistent and keep repeating these 5 steps to become a regular exerciser who absolutely, positively makes time for exercise because its just part of WHO YOU ARE!
Committed to your success,