[Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice.]
According to a survey, “exercise” ranked first among thousands of people’s top 10 desired habits.
Naturally, desiring to exercise and doing it are two distinct things.
Changing your habits is hard, and changing lifestyles is even harder.
That’s why it’s not easy to stick to a fitness routine. It can also be impossible to find the time, or you might have trouble finding a workout that suits your schedule, or it may just seem like too much work.
My friend Ram was always working out despite the odds. I couldn’t figure out why he did it as he was a busy entrepreneur and didn’t seem to have unlimited energy and time to exercise daily.
So one day, I asked him what was his exercise routine secret when his life was so busy. Then, he told me about the rituals he created for himself and how he sandwiched workouts in-between meetings and before bedtime.
Since he looked like a million bucks, I thought, “well, maybe there’s something worthwhile here!”
So what started as a little experiment a few years ago eventually became something much more than just meeting my New Year fitness goals — it’s become part of my daily routine that not only makes me feel good but also helps me stay mentally and emotionally fit.
In this article, I’ll share some of the best ways to make working out a daily habit and how you can stick with it for a longer time.
Picking a certain time and place to work out is one of the most effective strategies to make it a habit. This strategy might help you psychologically prepare for your workout and keep you accountable. You’re less likely to skip a workout if you have a defined time and place to work out.
I recommend that you work out within the first hour after waking up, and this is because your body is in its peak state of flexibility, strength, and hormonal secretions.
2. Listen to Your Lifestyle
It’s best to work out every day, but this is not always possible. So, don’t let this discourage you!
Give yourself time to build momentum.
If you can only work out once or twice per week, that’s okay! Just focus on being consistent with your workouts rather than following a certain routine or protocol.
Fitness routines should be individualized because everyone is different.
What works for me might not work for you.
Start small and gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your exercises.
If you try to do too much at once, you’re more likely to give up.
Also, take periodic breaks.
Starting to exercise can be physically and mentally demanding, so taking periodic breaks is important.
For example, for every 15 minutes you work out, give yourself a 5-minute break.
This rule will help your body recover and prepare for whatever comes next.
3. Get the Exercise Paraphernalia
One of the hardest things about exercising is feeling self-conscious and not being mentally, physically, and psychologically prepared.
That’s why it’s important to have the right gear, including shoes, clothing, and accessories. Other things that can make workouts more fun include listening to music or podcasts while you work out. This also shifts your focus from your mental inhibitions to “doing.”
When you have the proper gear, you’ll feel more confident, and you’ll be less likely to make excuses.
You can use these tools to track your workouts, get nutritional advice, make new friends working on their fitness goals, and much more.
4. Find a Confidant and Take Fitness Challenges
Finding a workout partner or enrolling in a fitness class are two more simple ways to get started on making exercise a daily habit.
You’ll feel more accountable and less tempted to skip exercises if you have a partner or friend engaged.
Being physically active with friends and family is something I highly suggest since it is both enjoyable and fulfilling. If you want to spend time together, you may go on walks, bike rides, treks, runs, and so on.
5. Sleep Is Your Superpower
When I didn’t get enough sleep, my energy levels plummeted, and I was more inclined to skip exercises.
The importance of getting enough sleep every night can’t be overstated. When you’re well-rested, you have more energy, and you’re less likely to make excuses to skip workouts. In addition, sleep is necessary for muscle recovery and growth.
It’s a personal preference and lifestyle, but I recommend getting 7–9 hours of sleep per night because it can make a huge difference in your overall well-being and fitness goals.
6. Cheat Days Are Inevitable
I also wanted to mention how my cheat days helped me succeed in my workout routine.
When I would start to feel overwhelmed or like I would give up, I would take a day off and eat whatever I wanted. The next day, I would be energized and ready for the next week ahead.
And I would repeat that pattern.
It also helped me to focus on one workout at a time and tell myself, “You got this! You can do anything for 24 hours.” And then I’d be even more motivated to keep going the next day.
Most people don’t recommend taking days off if you’re trying to make a lifestyle change with your workout routine. But one cheat day in two weeks won’t hurt! It works as a recharge!
How Long Does It Take To Make Exercise a Habit?
A scientific study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology states that:
“Any new habit takes between 18 days to 254 days to become ingrained in our brains. The time it takes to create a new habit depends on the behaviour, the person, and the situation.”
For example, let’s say that you want to work out two-three times per week.
Setting small goals for yourself will make it easier to stick with your new workout routine.
If you can work out every day, that’s great! If not, focus on being consistent.
After consistently exercising for two months or so, you should have developed a strong enough habit where doing the workout becomes second nature. From there, it shouldn’t be too difficult to maintain your momentum and keep working out regularly!
What Are the Best Ways To Stay Motivated To Exercise Regularly?
- Keep a post-it note on your mirror that says, “What would it take to get you out of bed today?” and make excuses for not exercising seem like less of a good idea.
- Acknowledge why you don’t want to work out. One option is to document on paper your reasons for not wanting to work out and read it aloud. Willpower starts with knowledge!
- Watch motivational videos before starting a workout if this works best for you! Your mood can affect how motivated you are when exercising.
- Keep track of what you’ve accomplished so far and write it down every night before going to bed: how many miles you walked/ran or how much weight you lifted at the gym that day, or simply all those sit-ups. The feeling of satisfaction from checking off those boxes will help you stay motivated all year long.
- Get ready as soon as possible in the morning so that there’s little time left to waste in making excuses— set out clothes for tomorrow and pack your bag with nothing but essentials such as a towel, water bottle, and shoes.
- Use all five senses to remember your past workout sessions and how good it felt to finish them!
- Enroll in an expensive gym, so you’ll feel like missing workouts.
A Final Word
It doesn’t matter how long a habit takes to form. Whether it takes 30 days or 300 days, you have to work hard.
Starting with day-1 is the only way to reach day-365. So ignore the number and get started.