In order to make exercise part of your weekly routine, you need to embrace the process and make a commitment to change. Once you’re in the mindset that you want to make a positive change in your life, it’s easier to accomplish your goals. Here are some helpful tips to form healthy exercise habits.
This has become a popular punchline in pop culture, but it’s also a psychological fact. Rewarding yourself for positive behavior helps shape your behavior faster and motivates you towards your goal. Remind yourself that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Instead of only celebrating once you hit your target weight or zipping up your jeans without a struggle, you should celebrate your little wins. Reward yourself for working out three times this week like you planned or for being able to do bicep curls with 5 pound dumbbells. Make sure that your rewards don’t counteract all the great work you’ve done. Try treating yourself to a manicure or buying a new pair of walking shoes.
Make exercise a priority.
It’s recommended that you’re active at least 30 minutes every day. That’s only 2% of your entire day. Try scheduling your workouts like a business meeting or a doctor’s appointment so that they’re set in stone. Don’t think of exercise as a chore; think of it as a special part of your day when you get to focus solely on yourself. If you’re not feeling up to a workout, try doing at least 10 minutes before throwing in the towel. Chances are that once you warm up, you’ll power through your workout and feel better once you’re done.
Exercise early in the morning or right after work.
While the allure of a nice, warm bed or kicking up your feet to watch your favorite TV show is tempting, remember that those activities do not further the accomplishment of your goals. Exercising in the morning sets a positive tone for the rest of your day. If you don’t have time to go in the morning, go on your way home from work. Avoid going home between work and the gym to change or have dinner; you’ll be less likely to go back out to the gym. Instead, keep a gym bag all packed and ready to go in your car so that you won’t be tempted to go home first.
Choose an exercise you love.
If you hate running, dragging yourself to the gym after a long day just to run on the treadmill is going to be miserable. However, if you love to dance, attending a Zumba class after a long day may be a much more appealing option. Not sure what you like? Try out something new each week. Not only will this help you find a new hobby, but it also will confuse your muscles, burning even more calories.
Make a game of it.
Keep track of your workouts and play a game with yourself to beat your personal record. For example, if you walked 3,000 steps today, aim to walk at least 3,500 tomorrow. There are many apps and devices that can track your workouts for you, like MyFitnessPal or a FitBit. Many of these methods have a social aspect, so you can challenge your friends to some healthy competition.
Exercise isn’t limited to the gym.
You may get the best workout while you’re in a fitness center, but there’s no reason to limit your workouts to when you’re clad in spandex. Make small changes such as parking farther away from a store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Consciously making these small changes is a great way to exercise even when you don’t mean to. Getting in this mindset will help you make smarter decisions all day, such as passing up the office donuts for a granola bar you brought from home.
Get a partner in crime.
Having a gym buddy will naturally help you to have better workouts because it will challenge you to work harder and try new things. Your workout partner can be a significant other, a friend, or even a personal trainer. What’s important is that your workout buddy keeps you accountable for your workouts and cheers you along throughout your journey.