Making Exercise a Habit (Not a Chore)

by Angela Yorke | May 31st, 2012 | Exercises

As anyone “on hiatus” from the gym would attest, it’s immensely easy to start an exercise routine. The difficulty lies in sustaining it long enough to reap the results. Exercise can be simple, but hardly easy. Indeed, most people would find the couch infinitely preferable to yet another session of agonizing cardio.

The thing about sustaining the exercise habit is to not view it as a difficulty, and do what is within your means when starting out. Too many people still make the mistake of trying to do too much too soon, which eventually leads to disillusionment and potential injury. Thus, for example, aim to run-walk for 30 minutes at comfortable intensity instead of running at brisk pace for an hour.

It can also be difficult to stick to an exercise routine when things like work and chores appear to occupy every waking hour. One way around this is by using exercise to “bookend” your day. This means either doing it first thing in the morning before work, or after work before you get home. Exercising in the morning energizes a person for the rest of the day, while doing so after work ensures that you won’t spend the rest of the evening in a fatigue-induced stupor.

Penciling time for exercise into a daily schedule also contributes towards making the habit permanent. Committing a specific time slot makes it more difficult to shirk an exercise session for flimsy reasons, especially if you would feel guilty about standing up your exercise buddy.

Keeping track of the activity you carry out also helps inculcate the habit of exercising as it allows you to track the progress you’ve made. Making a game of the progress tracking is one way of keeping it interesting. For example, based on the distance covered during a particular day’s run, how long would it take you to arrive at a particular destination?

Of course, all of this would count for naught if you simply dislike the activity in question. To be sure it isn’t just a reaction brought on by initial difficulty, stick to the activity for about three weeks. If you still find yourself making any excuse not to do it, then try something different that are you reasonably sure you’ll enjoy.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.