How to make exercise a lifestyle habit
by Will Gardner, HBF Health Services Consultant
Do you want to make exercise a habit, a consistent part of your lifestyle, but just don’t know where to start?
Well rest assured you’re not alone.
Most people generally acknowledge they should be exercising more or need to be physically active. It’s easy to recognise the need, but the most difficult part is kicking things off.
It begins with planning
Follow these strategies and you’ll be well on the way to an exercise habit in no time:
1. Set your goals and make them achievable – a common mistake is to expect too much too early. That is how discouragement occurs. Start with small, specific, attainable goals and put a time-frame on them. For example: for the next month I will do a brisk walk for 15 minutes at 3 times per week.
2. Start small and build up – 15 minutes might not seem like much, but initially it’s not the amount of time, it’s the regularity. Once you can consistently walk for 15 minutes, it’s not such a stretch to increase that time to 20 minutes and maybe add in an extra session or two.
3. Use reminders and track your results – enter the sessions in your phone’s calendar, or place post-it notes on your bedside table. Then log your sessions, and write down what you achieved and how it felt. Tracking your progress can be a massive motivational tool.
4. Get organised – if you’re going for an early morning jog, have your gear ready to go the night before. If you’re going for a cycle, make sure the tyres are pumped up, the lights working and your helmet ready. Do everything you can to make it easy.
5. Set up a non-food based reward system – the worst thing you can do is to binge on processed foods as a reward for yourself. Instead, you could get a massage, go to the movies, or purchase some exercise equipment. Treat yourself in a healthy way.
6. Do something you enjoy and make it fun – seems obvious, but if you hate going to the gym it’s almost pointless to buy a membership. There are so many different ways to keep active, so try something you feel you would really enjoy.
7. Exercise with a friend or a group – one of the best ways to get active is to be with other people. It can give you greater motivation and that social interaction we all love. It also keeps you more accountable.
8. Try to eat healthier – the more active we are, the healthier we tend to want to eat. But why not start this from the beginning. One of your goals could be to drink more water, eat more fruit and veg and greatly reduce processed foods from your diet. If you set healthy eating goals, it will motivate you with your exercise as well.
9. Try different activities – you’re more likely to stick to a habit if there is variety. Why not try a new activity once per month. You just might surprise yourself!
For more on staying physically active every day, check out LiveLighter’s helpful tips and advice.
The content of this article is not tailored for any particular individual’s circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.