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Building the exercise habit

Building the exercise habit

It may seem an obvious question- but what is a habit? We usually think of it as something done regularly. More importantly, a habit is something that we find difficult to stop. So with most of us needing more exercise, making fitness a habit will definitely do us good.

We are all somewhat lazy by nature, a relic of the cave days when we had to conserve limited calories. When we didn’t know where the next meal was coming from, there was no energy to waste. Now many of us have too much food, so not moving enough will have the obvious effect of increased weight gain.

To fight these inherited tendencies we need to work hard to create good habits. Try some of these:

Dream big, but plan small

It's important to have a goal to work towards, but it is equally important to focus on the small things we need to do each day in order to achieve that goal. So if your goal is to run a 10 minute mile, focus on how much time you need to put in on the treadmill each day. Breaking the activity down into small chunks is a great way of tricking your brain into making a habit of it.

Give yourself a solid timeline

The old theory goes that it takes 21 days to make a habit, but just to be sure, it's a good idea to set yourself a target of one calendar month. This makes it easy to track your progress, as well as giving you a clear block of time to commit to. Think, Go Sober for October.

Create triggers

Leaving physical reminders in your home or office is a great way to keep your new habit on track. Try a post it on the bathroom mirror, or leave your gymbag at the front door, whatever it takes to keep your daily goal at the front of your mind.

Don't let setbacks get to you

If you miss a gym session or a run, don’t beat yourself up, and don't throw in the towel. Just make sure you go to the next one.

Make it fun

Of course we are much more likely to do an activity that we enjoy. The great news is that it has been proved that exercise is more effective when it is fun. With so much choice in fitness classes and sports, there is bound to be something that suits you.

We all talk too much about bad habits. Let’s be positive and work on the good habits, starting with exercise.