Forming a new habit can take up to six weeks of commitment. Whether you want to get into the routine of exercising more often or you want to stop stopping at your local on your way home from work, it can take a month and half for that routine to become a habit. At this point, not working out will feel harder than going to the gym. When you begin something new, six weeks can feel like a very long time. But the more committed you are, the faster the days will go by. Here are a few tips for helping you stick with your new exercise routine until it is cemented into a habit.
1. Start by picking activities that you actually enjoy. Don’t start an exercise routine that you hate just because you think it will be good for your body. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you will be far less likely to continue doing it. And when it comes to exercise, there are so many choices that everybody can find something they enjoy. If you are just starting out, keep it simple and keep it fun. Don’t choose an activity that will lead to you overexerting yourself or you may end up with strained muscles that prevent you from exercising at all.
2. If possible, try picking a few different options and vary what you do. Being in the habit of getting regular exercise does not mean you must do the same monotonous task every time. Adding variety to your routine will also help keep you interested until the habit is formed. For example, if you enjoy running, make sure that is your primary activity, and also be sure to change up your route from time to time to keep it fresh − but be sure to include a few other activities, such as light resistance training to build muscle or playing a favourite sport with friends, throughout the week.
3. Once you have your routine picked out, set small goals for yourself. Having something to work toward will make sticking with the routine easier. But make sure that your goals are realistic and timed correctly. Setting a goal of losing 20 pounds in a month is unrealistic and likely to fail, and you may become discouraged. Instead set small, realistic weekly goals to work toward. Meeting these goals every week will give you frequent rewards, build confidence and keep you on track to solidly forming your exercise habit.
4. Finding a friend to work out with who has similar goals can greatly increase your chance of success. Knowing that somebody is relying on you to meet him or her at the gym is a big motivator to not cancel. And your friend will experience the same feelings, so both people win. And during the workout you can feed off each other’s energy and encourage each other to work harder.
5. Stay positive and focus on the good feelings and experiences you have. If you find yourself wanting to skip a routine, think about how good you will feel afterward if you do it. Physical activity stimulates the brain into releasing feel-good chemicals, which means you are guaranteed to feel good after a workout. Other positive things to focus on are how good you feel meeting your next goal, fitting into that special outfit, hearing friends and co-workers comment on how great you look, etc. Staying positive will also help you better understand the reasons why you want to exercise in the first place. This will give you even more things to focus on. Keeping a positive attitude will make your new routine much more likely to become a habit. On the other hand, if all you focus on are negatives, you will be much more likely to abandon the routine.
6. Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. The more times you work out, the more likely you will be to form the habit. However, instead of worrying about missing last night’s trip to the gym or working too hard to try to make up for a missed night of exercise, focus on just getting some workout time in. Even if it is only for a few minutes, the more times a week you are able to exercise, the healthier you will be and the more likely it is that your habit will be cemented into a permanent routine in your life.
These are just a few tips for excuse-proofing your exercise. The effort that you put into forming a new healthy habit of any kind will reward you many times over if you stick with it. When you find yourself struggling, just remember that after those first six weeks, it will be much easier to stick to your healthy routine, because good habits are hard to break.
Vitamins A, B-6, B-12 C & D-3, which support the immune system, production of red blood cells and the maintenance of energy levels – and much more!
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