10 Tips to Make Exercise a Lifelong Habit
Have you ever started an exercise program only to quit a few months, weeks, or even days later?
It’s easy to be excited at the beginning of an exercise program, but what do you do when things get difficult?
What happens when you miss one workout, then two, then three, and before you know it you have stopped completely?
Adhering to an exercise program for a lifetime isn’t easy, but it can can be done. Here’s how:
1. List your personal reasons to adhere to a healthy lifestyle.
To begin to make exercise a lifetime habit, you need some solid reasons to do so. You need to discover your why. Of course you know that it is beneficial to your health to exercise, but there is much, much more than that.
Do you want to be able to play with your kids? Or go hiking at a national park? How about having energy to get through your day? We all have our own reasons for wanting a healthy lifestyle – spend some time thinking of yours.
2. Perform a behavior analysis.
If you know your reasons for making exercise a habit for a lifetime you can then begin a behavior analysis. Ask yourself a few questions:
- What has prevented you from making exercise a habit in the past? Why?
- When have you had success in the past exercising? How were you able to achieve success?
- What habits can you improve on?
Asking yourself a few questions such as these can go a long ways in helping you make exercise a habit for a lifetime.
3. Figure out the logistics.
Figuring out the details for how you will exercise is extremely important. You can have the best intentions for exercise, but until you decide on how you are going to make it happen, you’ll be lost. To help you out, here are some things to think about:
- Where will you exercise? At home? At the gym? Which gym?
- What type of exercise will you do? Weight training? Interval training? Boot camps? Fitness classes?
- Which days of the week will you exercise?
- How much time will you exercise each day?
4. Set goals.
I’m sure you’ve heard all about goal setting before so I’m not going to go too much into this. Here is what you need to do:
- Develop a long term vision for what you will work towards
- Focus on primarily on process goals (Your behaviors)
- Write your goals down
It’ll be much easier to make exercise a habit if you have help from other people. Find a workout partner, join an exercise class, or hire a personal trainer. Having some accountability surely helps you out. For my 100 days without sweets challenge the accountability aspect is everything. Having to write about my experience every day helps keep my nutrition on track.
6. Start slow.
Every January, gyms everywhere are packed! But then what happens?
Come February or March people fall off.
Many of them start by doing way too much and when they can no longer maintain that same level of effort they stop.
A major factor in adhering to exercise in the long term is to start slow. Remember, the goal is to make exercise a habit for a lifetime and this takes time.
Sure we all want instant results RIGHT NOW, but if we really want to build the right habits to allow us to have success in the future we have to start slow.
If you are new to exercise maybe that means working out a couple days per week and when you have succeeded at that you can do a little more – progress is key
7. Get past the all-or-nothing mindset.
To go along with starting slow to build that lifelong exercise habit another important strategy is to get past the all-or nothing mindset.
Countless times I’ll have a workout planned and something will come up.
Instead of the hour session I was going to complete I may now only have 20 minutes. What to do?
Many people in this situation will simply not work out at all – they’ll skip the session entirely.
However, to really cement the exercise habit it’s critical to get past this all-or-nothing mindset and focus on just doing something.
Distractions will always pop up, that’s just life, focus on making the most of the time you do have and be flexible with your workout plans – doing something is better than doing nothing at all.
8. Track your progress.
What you track is up to you, but it definitely helps to keep you going week after week.
For starters, you could keep track of when you are working out.
Did you do 2 workouts this week? 3 workouts? This will help keep you accountable – a major factor in making exercise a lifelong habit.
Depending on your exercise goal you might want to track some other variables such as:
- Body fat percentage
- Circumference measurements
- Heart rate recovery
- Maximal strength
- Submaximal strength
9. Make exercise fun.
Exercising doesn’t have to be boring. Find activities that interest you and will get you moving.
Play some pick up basketball, go golfing, challenge a friend to a tennis match, join a game of sand volleyball – there are plenty of fun activities out there that count as exercise.
The gym is surely a great place to get stronger and in better cardiovascular shape, but don’t think that it is your only option.
10. Make it as convenient as possible.
To really make exercise a habit for life it’s important to make it as convenient as possible. This is especially important to help you eliminate excuses.
Join a gym that’s close to home, buy exercise equipment you can use at home and on the road, have workouts pre-made on note cards so you’ll know what to do when it’s crunch time, create a list of workout buddies so you can always call on someone in time of need – make it as convenient as you can and save your willpower for other tasks.
Getting Started Today
If you haven’t exercised in a while I’d highly suggest starting with my 21 day beginner workout challenge. This involves 21 straight days of exercise, can be done at home, and is a great way to establish your own exercise habit.
You can make exercise a lifelong habit, just start with one day at a time 🙂