lasting exercise habits

How to make lasting exercise habits

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As winter draws to an end, it’s a time to reflect on your early-year goals, many of which are health or exercise goals.

Whatever your goal is – to start running, cycle to work, lose weight, train for an upcoming marathon – now is not the time to stop training. It’s a time to focus on making those exercise habits lasting ones. If you’re reading this and you haven’t been able to reach your goals yet, don’t fear. Use this blog as inspiration to get back on the bandwagon.

Let’s look at what you need to do to make lasting exercise habits.

Essentially, you establish a long-term ‘habit’ when you consistently maintain an active regime. Simply put, you regularly exercise on an ongoing, weekly basis. This is a serious commitment, a lifestyle change, but once you’ve achieved ‘habit’ status, it gets a lot easier and you’ll really feel the associated benefits of regular exercise.

There are two things you need to achieve this. Firstly, you need to actually start exercising – this is often the hardest part. Secondly, you need to maintain your training for a long period of time – this is often the hurdle where many fall. For instance, it’s easy to get going in January as everyone starts their health kicks, but if you give up a month later then you won’t hit your goals.

Unfortunately (the bad news), it takes months to establish a habit.

How to create lasting exercise habits??

1 – it’s a serious commitment of time and willpower. Don’t underestimate it. And don’t give up!

2 – develop a regular pattern of exercise that isn’t too difficult to maintain or too physically demanding on your body. If you overdo it you’ll often run out of time, struggle to fit it in or, worst case, injure yourself. Your exercise habits should be achieveable and compliment your daily lifestyle.

3 – find what truly motivates you for when you are finding it hard (and you will) to keep going.

4 – adopt a ‘yes’ attitude. It’s too easy to say ‘no’ to exercise because of so many excuses – too tired, weather is cold, working late, forgot your sportswear… We’ve heard it all. Sometimes you need to just say ‘yes’, even when you don’t want to.

Staying motivated

Staying motivated is absolutely key to making lasting exercise habits. The good news is when you start seeing results (and you will), it will be a really positive mental boost. For me, personally, my running results showed a significant improvement from when I started to where I am now. Every time I either ran further or ran faster was a massive boost mentally.

It’s important to set yourself realistic goals and reward yourself when you reach them. Long-lasting exercise habits should be fun, after all, not a complete chore that you end up hating. It won’t last if you hate it.

exercise motivation

Three key tips

To help you on your way, here are my top three tips for building sustainable, lasting exercise habits.

1 – planning: Each week, plan your exercise and prepare properly for it. Pack your kit the night before, stick to your schedule (but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session), fuel your body with the right nutrition and establish a healthy and achieveable routine.

2 – buddy up: Finding a training partner is a really good way to stay motivated, keep it interesting and improve the quality of your exercise. Either find a like-minded friend, join a club or take a few classes. If it’s fun, you’re more likely to keep at it.

3 – mix it up: If, for example, your goal is to take up cycling, that doesn’t mean you only ever have to cycle. Doing the same thing over and over can get boring. So mix it up, do things you actually enjoy, and try new routes and exercises. Combine spinning with outdoors cycling, for instance. If you try and develop an exercise habit in something you really don’t like, you’ll find it very hard to maintain.

Good luck in achieving long-lasting exercise habits! 

Chris Smith
Founder of Vivi Nation, sports enthusiast, occasional triathlete, keen cyclist and optimistic Liverpool FC fan.

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