Changing your habits is hard, especially when it comes to getting off the couch and starting to exercise. For many people, starting is the hardest part. After all, one study found that 26.8 percent of people are entirely inactive; this research suggests that 81.2 million Americans don’t exercise at all. To turn things around in your life — and make fitness just as big a priority as your family, work, or pets — start with a solid understanding of the perks of fitness and then implement habit-building tips.
Benefits of a Consistent Workout Routine
One thing that can help you prioritize your workout routine is to understand what you are getting out of it every time. It can be hard to find the energy, the time, and the motivation to get into shape; but as you make exercise a focus in your life, all those other pieces become easier.
Regular exercise can help you in many ways, supporting:
- Better sleep
- More energy
- Muscle gain
- Weight Loss
- Improved mental health
- Better immunity
- Cardiovascular health
These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to health benefits from working out regularly. These health gains will also help make you more productive at your job, as well as help you become a better family member and friend.
The surprising part is you will start feeling better with as little as 30 minutes of activity a day. That equates to missing one episode of your favorite sitcom or enjoying that same episode while building up a sweat. Any amount of progress counts, and if you feel the impact on day one, imagine how you’ll feel on day 100!
Habit-Building Tips to Make Time for Your Workout
So now that you understand precisely why you’re trying to work out, you have to do the actual exercise. The execution of a workout plan can be the most challenging part.
Everyone has the best intentions when they fall asleep at night, ready to start their routine in the morning. Then you get a phone call, work too late, or forget to cook dinner, and all those plans are ruined.
Try these tricks to help make sure that you find the time to get your workout in, even if there are many obstacles in your way.
1. Schedule Your Workout Like Any Other Appointment
Appointments make the world go round. You schedule meetings, dates, spa days, and doctor’s appointments all the time, and for the most part, you get to them all, even when your day becomes hectic.
Schedules can make your whole day more manageable and easier to plan. Having a set appointment to work out will help make sure that you do get it done.
2. Workout With Your Family, Friends, and Pets
In theory, making your exercise as important as your job, kids, or pets might be sufficiently motivating, but it can be hard to do in practice. So if you can find ways to combine these things, you will be more likely to do it, science confirms.
Make your workout part of your quality time with family, friends, and pets. It’s better than watching a tv show, and you will be sharing the health benefits with those you love.
Workouts can also scale to fit the needs of your family and pets. Your dog loves to walk and run, which counts as a great workout. Take your kids to the park and make sure to do activities with them.
Pushing kids on a swing could one day be added to CrossFit. OK, probably not — but it is still a decent arm workout, especially when you pair it with other park workout activities (no gym required).
3. Make Getting to the Workout the Easiest Part of the Workout
If you have to go out of your way to make it to your gym or workout location, you’re going to skip it. Recent studies show that 67% of people who own a gym membership don’t use it.
Find a close and convenient gym, buy home gym equipment, or find exercises and activities you can do without a lot of planning or gear. The easier it is to start your workout, the more likely you will do the routine.
4. Warm-up, Cool Down, and Stretch
You’re doing great, you’re in the gym three times a week, running seven days a week, and then suddenly, you strain a muscle or twist an ankle and you can’t work out for a while. Once you’re out of the habit, you start to miss a few more days, and soon you’re back to Netflix.
To avoid this, make sure to do a proper warm-up and cool down before and after every workout. During these times, it is also important to stretch. Getting a solid pre and post-workout stretch helps you avoid injuries and pain. These simple activities can help you keep up your routine.
5. Make Up Your Mind
The cliche mind over matter exists for a reason. How you think about an activity can have wide-ranging effects on it. If you think of your workout as a choir, it will be one. If you think about it as a reward, it will become that. Remind yourself of all the great benefits you receive from a workout.
Furthermore, the more you work out, the better your mental health will be. In turn, this mental “freshness” will help you keep a positive attitude towards the activity, which will consequently entice you to work out more often.
6. Exercise When It Make Sense for You
Everyone tries to tell you what the best time to workout is. Do it when you first get out of bed, do it right before you go to sleep, do it when the sun is in the center of the sky for the best benefits. The truth is, you can work out whenever it works the best for you.
If you know that you love getting a workout first thing in the morning, wake up early and knock it out. If you’re a night owl that loves to be awake when others slumber, do your work out at night. If activity helps get your mind right for the second part of your day, a lunchtime workout is for you. Figure out your favorite time, and place it on your schedule.
7. Set Realistic Goals
You’re not going to lose 25 pounds with just a week’s worth of cardio workouts. Set realistic goals based on your ability level and your current physical shape. If you are trying for weight loss, one to two pounds a week is achievable. If you want muscle gain, it could take a bit longer — but setting realistic timelines is crucial.
Having real goals that you can reach will help you be encouraged by your activity. It will make it easier to stick to your plan when you know what you should expect.
8. Track Your Workouts
When you are making your exercise as important as your job/kids/pets, it helps to track workouts. When you do, you increase your accountability. Going back and looking at a log can help you understand just how much you have accomplished when you build a habit of working out.
Many apps track your activity and your workouts. These are nice because they offer options to share your workouts with others so you can brag a little about keeping up your routine. The old analog way to do this involves a calendar that you write your activity on each day. Both ways can be very effective and satisfying.
9. Record Your Results
Results can come in many forms. Weight loss is a great result, especially when you start a new workout plan, but eventually, you will get to your goal weight and won’t be able to track that stat anymore.
When that happens, you can start recording things like how much weight you lift in your strength exercises or times for running specific cardio exercises. These stats can help you push yourself to beat previous personal bests. Keeping track of how well you are doing can help you stay motivated.
10. Vary Your Routine
Routines matter for enforcing good habits. But doing a varied routine — changing up your exercises within the same timeframe — has a few benefits.
First, it ensures that you are exercising many different muscle groups. It will help you see maximum benefits from every workout. Second, it will help keep your gym time fresh and exciting. If you’re bored, you’ll soon break the good habit you’ve developed.
11. Turn Your Workout into a Social Activity
There are plenty of workout classes and group activities that center around physical fitness. You can start wall climbing, fencing, aerobics, or even stunt choreography. These activities help you work out with other people who like at least one activity you do.
It is a great way to meet new friends or interact with existing friends. Plus, research suggests that people who exercise with a group are 42 percent more likely to keep up their weight loss success,.
Habit Helpers to Avoid Missing Your Workout
You’ve got plenty of habit-building tips in your toolkit, but it may still be possible for you to miss (or intentionally skip) a workout. Life gets in the way, and you just can’t find a way to make it to your scheduled exercise.
Even when your gym is at home, you can still run into time-related issues. Here are some things you can do to make sure you avoid missing a workout.
12. Work Out With Everyday Activities
One of the easiest ways to never miss your workout is to build your workouts into your daily life. When you are commuting somewhere close, try walking or riding a bike. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. Stretch and do calisthenics when taking a break from work.
When you add these small fitness-focused activities to everyday life, you will always get a little bit of workout during the day.
13. Keep Workout Clothes Available
You’re kept late at work, or you have to run an unexpected last-minute errand. These events can mess up your schedule, and you won’t be able to get home, change, and make it to your workout. No problem.
Keep a pair of workout clothes close to you for just this problem. You’ll be able to change and get your set in, even if life is making it more difficult. These clothes often don’t take up much room, and if you have a set at all times, you can enjoy a workout whenever you get a chance.
14. Give Yourself a Break
Some people think you have to give 110% every time you work out, or you shouldn’t work out at all. That’s not a great way to think about health. Is it better to give your maximum effort on every workout? Yes, but, like with most things in life, sometimes just being there is enough to help you.
Working out, even for less time or with less energy, will still help you build a habit. The habit-building you enforce will make it easier to workout at other times. You’re also better off cutting a workout short than not jumping in at all.
15. Give Yourself Rewards for Doing the Work
Rewards mean different things to different people. For some, the promise of an hour of reality TV is enough motivation to get them to hit the gym hard beforehand. Other people have to think bigger. You can make your rewards contingent on workout duration, measurable results, or simply for showing up each time.
You can scale your rewards by how hard it is to achieve them, too. Just keep in mind that it’s not ideal to reward yourself with food, unless it’s adding some healthy but expensive ingredient to your pantry. Don’t make junk food rewards a habit, but make sure to pamper yourself when you reach your goals.
Start Building Those Habits!
For many people, the idea of going a single day without bathing, brushing teeth, or combing their hair seems shocking. Worse is the idea that you’d skip dinner with your kids or a snuggle session with your pet. Or, horror of horrors, slacking at or skipping work because you just don’t feel like going.
It feels shocking because those things are all habits that are ingrained in your psyche, and you feel a sense of commitment to keeping your hygiene up, bonding with your kids, and nurturing your furry family members. And of course, work matters because you don’t want to get fired.
The key to turning fitness into a solid habit is making exercise the same type of essential element in your day. With these tips as a starting point, you can change your outlook and daily habits for the better.
In prioritizing fitness, you have to remember that those healthy habits support the rest of your life and your other priorities. The healthier you are, the better you will perform at work, the longer you’ll be around for your kids, and the more active you can be with your pets.
Building healthier habits in fitness means a more vibrant life experience — so stop making excuses and get started now!