Secrets to Steal From People Who Never Miss a Workout

Perhaps you've heard of this mythical creature, the one they call the "Consistent Exerciser"? She's the one who finds a way to fit in a workout even if she's tired, not feeling her best, the weather forecast is cold or rainy, she has thousands of tasks on her to-do list or she forgot her gym bag at home. Is it possible that someone like this actually exists? Are there really people who don't let life get in the way of their best-laid plans, and are able to keep their exercise routine going day after day, week after week? 

Time to start believing. Yes, there are many people who, against all odds, find a way to stay consistent with their exercise routine. They might take days off, but when they do, it's planned and not because they were tired and hit the snooze button too many times that morning. Exercise has become a regular part of their daily life and something they can't imagine living without. But how does one get to the point where exercise becomes an integral task for the day and not just something extra you wish you had the time and energy to attempt? With a few tips from SparkPeople members, you'll soon be well on your way to achieving that mythical "Consistent Exerciser" title yourself.

SparkPeople Members Share What Keeps Them Moving

"My motivation nudges me every morning between six and seven a.m. for a daily walk, and again around four in the afternoon. Her name is Krissy and she has been a faithful walking buddy for more than eight years. Due to an early diagnosis of hip dysplasia, the miles keep her muscles strong and hips in place, so we are good for around five miles a day between the two walks. Dogs are great motivation and harder to pile clothes on (like a treadmill). It is also hard to turn down a wagging tail and toothy grin." CLPT1969

"I swim with a work colleague. At the beginning of the week, we plan which days we are going to swim and we commit to doing it. I find that saying it out loud and being accountable to someone else makes me more likely to stick to it." LULUBELLE65

"I plan. Since I work out at home, there is no excuse good enough, unless my basement flooded. However, there are days when the workout I scheduled just doesn't sound good. Maybe I'm sore or my brain is trying to think of an excuse, so I plan alternate workouts that are similar. If I don't feel like doing either one, then I know I'm just making excuses and being lazy." JENSTRESS

"I will say that planning a workout rotation for the entire month helps me, so on those days I know I'm perfectly capable of doing my workout [because] I already have a plan set. If I try to do "whatever I feel like," I tend to end up doing something not so beneficial or decide it would be more fun to sit on the couch and binge-watch Netflix." KELLY_R

"One thing I tell myself is that I only have to do 10 minutes. If I don't want to go to the gym, I'll head out for a fast 10-minute walk, [instead] I always end up going for at least 20, usually 30 minutes. The second thing that gets me going is the commitment that exercise is non-negotiable; I do it for my life and that is something I can't and won't cheat. When I was close to 62 years old I had a heart attack. I had already lost 50 pounds and was walking, but the heart attack and full recovery made the need to exercise something that is going to be a part of my life forever." MARTHA324

"When I'm sick, had a hard day or I'm injured and have to take it easy, I give myself permission to go through the motions. Cardio might be a 30-minute walk, or weight training by moving my arms or [lifting] one pound bags of beans. There are always chair exercises, and the ones on SparkPeople are the perfect length. All of these activities help me stay in the habit. When the doctor said, "Lose weight or I operate," I had to put weight loss first. To me, it was the medicine the doctor prescribed; you have to take it. I've lost the weight, but I never want to find it again, so that's why I keep at it." MARYALICE411

"My Garmin step tracker keeps me working out. I have a sedentary job, which is even more reason to exercise. My husband will tell you I am obsessive compulsive about getting in my steps. Before I had my Garmin, I was motivated by tracking my workouts and reaching my goal number of minutes every week. Whether steps, minutes or miles, those kinds of goals keep me going." CINDILP

6 Tricks to Consistency Success

If you're searching for ways to make workouts a regular part of your routine, there are specific things you can do to increase the odds that you'll follow through with your exercise goals.
  1. Plan. Whether that means one day or one week ahead, planning your activities and blocking out time each day for exercise makes it more likely you'll stick with it no matter what gets in your way. Treat your workout just like any other appointment by writing it down on your calendar for the day. You wouldn't skip an important meeting with your boss, so why skip an important meeting with your treadmill that benefits your health for years to come?
  2. Be flexible. Despite your best efforts, sometimes life gets in the way. If you don't have time for your planned 45-minute workout, do 20 minutes instead. If the ellipticals are all taken when you arrive at the gym or you're just not excited about your planned strength workout today, do something else. If you forgot your running shoes, hop on the stationary bike instead. Having a backup plan allows you to stay consistent no matter what curveballs the day throws at you.
  3. Find an accountability partner. This could be someone you meet a few times a week at the gym or someone you check in with online. Knowing someone else (or a group of people) is out there expecting you to follow through with your plan makes it less likely you'll skip out. If you're just not feeling it today, an accountability partner can also be a source of encouragement to get you off the couch and out the door.
  4. Pursue activities you enjoy. The more you like what you're doing, the more likely you are to keep coming back for more. Don't choose an exercise based solely on how many calories it burns or because it's the new trend everyone else is raving over. If you look forward to your workout—instead of dreading something you hate—you're automatically setting yourself up for success. 
  5. Make it public. Whether it's telling your SparkFriends you're going to walk three miles today or posting your planned workout on Facebook, telling others is a great way to stay accountable. If you're worried you might skip tomorrow's early morning spin class, say to others in the class "See you tomorrow!" before you leave the gym today. If others expect you to follow through, then you can expect the same from yourself.
  6. Consider switching to morning workouts. Although it's not easy to drag yourself out of bed each morning, there is less chance for popup meetings, traffic jams or other unexpected events getting in the way of your workout. Once you get into a regular routine, it's not difficult to transition into a morning exerciser.
No one is perfect, so don't beat yourself up if you miss a workout now and then. But if it seems like you're getting off track more than you're on, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate your plan. The "Consistent Exerciser" doesn't have to be a mythical creature—it can be you!