100,000-149,999 SparkPoints 120,777

How to make Exercise a Daily Habit!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Here are some practical suggestions I’ve learned along the way to help make exercise a daily habit:

emoticonSet a time. Decide whether you’re more likely to stick with it in the morning or lunchtime or evening, and stick with that time. I’ve set the time of 6:00 a.m. every day, and I work nights, so i go straight from work. I’m trying my best not to vary from that time. If you don’t set a time, you’re more likely to put it off until you have more time or energy, and then put it off until the next day. Soon, it’s not a habit at all.
emoticonSend yourself a reminder. I use Memo to Me, but there are a number of ways to send yourself an email or text reminder, so you’ll never forget. Then, when you get the reminder, do it right away. Don’t brook any delays.
emoticonStart small. This is perhaps the most useful suggestion of all. When I start exercising, I always start with lots of energy, enthusiasm and ambition. I think I can do more than I can. However, doing too much in the beginning leads to burnout, which leads to quitting your habit. When you first try to make exercise a daily habit, chances are, your body won’t be used to that kind of stress. The key: only do 20 minutes in the beginning, and do it nice and easy. Nothing hard. Even 10-15 minutes is fine at first, if you’re just starting out. The key is to get out there, get your body slowly used to daily exercise, and form that habit.
emoticonProgress later. Once your body is used to daily exercise, you can slowly start to increase the amount and intensity of your exercise. Wait at least two weeks before starting to increase — that’s the minimum your body needs to adjust. Once it begins to feel way too easy, you can start increasing the length of your workouts, to 30 and then 40 minutes, and eventually up to an hour. Once you do that, you can gradually increase the intensity — running faster or harder, for example. Try not to increase both distance and intensity at the same time.
emoticonMake it pleasurable. If you associate a habit with pain, you will shy away from it. But if it’s fun, you’ll look forward to doing it. That’s why, in this beginning stage of my new habit, I’ve been focusing on pleasure. I go slowly, enjoying the scenery, the fresh morning air, the beautiful sky as the sun rises, the quiet time of solitude and contemplation. It’s actually something I enjoy doing. An mp3 player with some great music helps.
emoticonLay out your gear. The fewer obstacles and less friction there is in forming your new habit, the more likely you are to be successful. If you have to not only wake up early but get a bunch of gear together while half awake, you might just want to go back into bed. But if you lay out your workout clothes and shoes and watch and mp3 player, or whatever you need for your exercise, you’ll be ready to go with no friction at all.
emoticonJust head out the door. My rule is just to get my workout gear on and get out the door. I don’t worry about how long I have to go or how hard it will be. Just get out and get started. Once I’ve done that, it’s a piece of cake.
emoticonMix it up. One thing I do is golf everyday, but in the gym i try a variety of cardio exercises. But perhaps just as important is that with each sport, I’m using different muscles, especially with swimming. Sure, some of the same muscles are used, but they’re used differently with different stresses on them. What that means is that I’m not pounding the same muscles, every day. That gives them a chance to recover, because without recovery, you’re just breaking your muscles down over and over.
emoticonHave a relative rest day. Again, recovery is very important. Which is why you need to give your body a chance to rest. If you’re taking it easy, and only doing 20 minutes, you should be OK without rest days. But it’s still good to have one day of rest, where you’re not doing the same exercises as the other six days. You don’t want to skip the day completely, because then you’re not being consistent with your habit. If you need more rest, you could just do 20 minutes of walking, or even just a session of meditation. The key is to do something every day, preferably something that gets you moving (meditation isn’t the best example, but at least you’d be doing something) and keeps your habit formation going.
emoticonDon’t skip a day. It’s easy to say, “No problem, I’ve been doing it for five days … I’ll just skip today!” But that will make your habit formation harder. Consistency is key, so try not to skip a single day. If you do, don’t beat yourself up, don’t judge, don’t feel bad — everyone messes up sometimes, and habit formation is a skill that requires practice. Just start your 30-day challenge over again, and try to identify the obstacle that led to your skipping a day and prepare for it this time.

This idea might not work for everyone but it has worked for me, so if you have any suggestions or comments to add please feel free add as th journey is a work in progress!!!
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SPARKLE1908
    Great advice...thanks for putting it out there....sounds simple enough...now the hard part...actually following your advice!
    2821 days ago
    This is great and so true. I totally agree about the starting out small thing. That's a huge deal for me. I go all crazy and then sit on ice packs for a bit.

    I've been wanting to take a walk at a couple cute places around town with my tunes playing.. Nothing out of control, just to get moving!

    2821 days ago
    This is a great blog! A reminder that we can all do it all it takes is consistency! Thanks for sharing!!
    2822 days ago

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2822 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/5/2012 8:05:24 PM
    Thank you so much for this advice. I, being a former New Yorker, Queens, that is, faithful member of White Rock church in Harlem on 127th., miss the the general exercise of walking to the E,F trains to wall street 6 days per. week. Washington State a little more laid back, no excuse, YMCA is where I am consistently only 5 days so far. Miss that NYC pizza!!!!! Keep on keeping real!:)
    2822 days ago
    Love it! Here's my take:

    1. Set a time
    Absolutely, consistency is the key.

    2. Send yourself a reminder.
    I use the universal MS Outlook for everything.

    3. Start small.
    Trying too much at once it once is doomed to failure due to initial workout pains and burnout from not achieving.

    4. Progress later.
    Listen to your body, it's telling you what and when it can take it.

    5. Make it pleasurable.
    Find a routine you like, try new things and you'll keep at it.

    6. Lay out your gear.
    No excuses when you wake or walk in after work and there're the pieces saying "Lets go!"

    7. Just head out the door.
    Why would one do any other? You're psyched and dressed, do it!

    8. Mix it up
    Bike, swim, row weights, circuit (or golf!), stepper, whatever, that P90 ad is right in saying never fall into a routine.
    Whatever feels right that day and keeps you moving is the key.

    9. Have a relative rest day.
    Mondays (or whatever the first workday of the week is) works for me as I try to hit it pretty hard over the weekend and an looking for a break.

    10. Don’t skip a day.
    Don't skip in either exercise or food routines. Consistency is the key.

    Great blog. Take notice Spark peeps, X5X52000 nailed it.
    2822 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/21/2012 8:20:15 PM
    I love them all & at one time or another when my energy has been zapped like now, I did one or all of em. lol My fav is setting a timer to wake up earlier than usual so I can do other things I like to do too.

    God bless & thanks for sharing!

    2822 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.