The Best Intentions
Have you ever set out with the best of intentions to start exercising regularly? Maybe you even went as far as buying a gym membership, a piece of exercise equipment, or some new gym clothes.
If you answered yes, to either of those questions you are not alone!
Everyone knows that exercise has many physical and emotional benefits; it can make you stronger while also relieving your stress. However, despite the well-known benefits of exercise, many people have trouble sticking with a consistent exercise regimen.
As a fitness professional with twenty-six years of experience, I have seen this happen to MANY people. In fact, I would say that the majority of people struggle to maintain a regular exercise regiment.
Well, it is difficult to stay on task. We are all busy, and it is easy to get distracted.
However, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done; even busy people who often lack focus can make regular exercise a habit. I know this because I interact with MANY people who have a regular exercise routine, and I what has helped them maintain this habit for years and allow it to become a part of their lifestyle.
Ways to Make Exercise a Habit
My experience has taught me that there are many ways to make exercise a habit. However, I suggest trying the following strategy to keep your intentions intact and jumpstart your roadmap to regularity!
Master your Mindset
Henry Ford famously said “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” In other words, what you think matters! So if you believe that you are too busy, too lazy, too tired, etc. to add regular exercise into your life, you will most likely not be able to add regular exercise into your life. On the other hand, if you believe that you will succeed, it is most likely that you will. As Buddha said “What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.”
Set a Goal.
Setting goals is an important, and often necessary, action. After all, your intentions matter.
Therefore, when we set a goal, we are specifically telling the universe what we want to happen. We are taking the time to define exactly what we want to accomplish; we are setting a clear intention. We are making it more real.
With regards to exercise, goal setting can:
- speeds up your progress.
- Increases the likelihood of success.
- Increase your task persistence and make it less likely that you drop out
If you need help getting started with writing meaningful goals, please read my previous blog posts on goal setting:
Michael Hyatt says “What gets scheduled, get done.”
In other words, if you block out time in advance to get something done, you are much more likely to accomplish it.
Not surprisingly, this concept is especially true for exercise. Although we all know the many benefits of exercise, many of us still tend to put it on the bottom of the list of priorities.
However, I challenge you to record how you spend your time for the next week. I would bet that you are spending some of your time doing things that are simply not a priority. If this is the case with you, align your time to your priorities.
Create space for it.
In addition to creating a space on your calendar for exercise, you also need to plan a physical space for your exercise routine.
Of course, there are many options for your exercise space. your space could be you favorite local gym or studio. Or, it could be an area in your house that is conducive to the exercise format that you have chosen. If you live in an area that is experiencing great weather, you may choose to exercise outside.
The location that you choose should resonate with you. You should love it; so that you are more likely to look forward to the time that you will spend exercising there.
Find an accountability partner or workout buddy.
Most people would agree life is better together.
Well, this isn’t just true for romantic endeavors; this is also true for exercise! As explained in this article, research shows that if you exercise with someone else, you are more likely to feel accountable and stick with it!
Hire a trainer/coach…..Monitor progress and give feedback
While an accountability partner or workout buddy is a great support, sometimes we just don’t have currently have anyone who is appropriate for the role. In this case, take the plunge to hire a fitness professional like me someone who will hold you accountable for meeting your goals. Or, if you are on a budget and like technology, you could use an app like Habit List to help you achieve the goals that you set for yourself.
Publicly profess your goal.
When you tell your goals to others, you are making yourself publicly accountable. So if you really want to increase the odds of accomplishing your exercise goals, tell others! You can announce it to your lunch buddies at work, you can announce it at your next family event, or you can post it on your social media page; just choose what group will make you feel the most accountable and, therefore, make you the most likely to continue working towards your exercise goals.
Join a community.
Margaret Mead said “Never underestimate the power of a small group of people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Undoubtedly, joining have been shown to influence behavior. For this reason, joining an in-person or online support system to help you stick with your exercise routine. Many different communities exist to support you. The Facebook group that I oversee for people participating in my 30 Day Free Pilates Mat Challenge for Beginners is an example of an online support community that you could join.