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It’s easy to start working out, but much harder to create a lasting habit of daily exercise. After our initial enthusiasm and conviction subsides, all too often we get distracted by daily life and throw in the towel.
Habits, like the cells in our bodies, make up the building blocks of our daily routines. Learning to control and change our habits is key to creating a daily exercise routine. Here are six important tips to get you started towards a healthier and fitter lifestyle.
Starting a new lifestyle habit can seem daunting and difficult. However, try to approach your fitness habit incrementally, and start with tiny steps so the change doesn’t seen sudden and uncomfortable. Instead of committing to 60 minutes of exercise a day, try something like 15 or 20 minutes that is easily attainable. The key is to avoid excersize burn out which often leads to quitting a habit.
There’s no rule that you have to go to a gym, or workout with the intensity of a body builder. In fact, if you associate your workouts with pain, you're going to be much less likely to create a habit that sticks. Try out a variety of physical actives like walking, working out at home, tennis, cycling, weight lifting, or cross fit. Focus on the pleasure you get from being active. This is your habit, you have the freedom to go slowly, rock out to great music, or reflect and contemplate your solitude if you want.
It’s absolutely critical that you decide on a time of day that you’re likely to stick with, and try your best not to vary it. If you don’t have a fixed time, you’ll find that you’re much more likely to put off your workout until a “later” date. Experts suggest that working out in the morning is best, because you have the most willpower first thing in the morning and it will minimize distractions. The next best time is to workout on your way home from work. Most people don’t have enough motivation to change their clothes and go out again once they get home after a long day.
With habit creation, consistency is key. Working out might sound like the last thing you want to do on a day when you’re really struggling. However, chances are that you’ll start feeling more energized when you’re finished. It’s easy to say “I’m tired, I’m just going to skip today,” but caving to these feelings will make forming a habit harder. Instead of skipping your workout all together, take an active recovery day and and enjoy 20 minutes of brisk walking or even meditation.
Find a partner to join you in creating a daily fitness habit. Workouts are much more fun with another person, and you’re much more likely to show up if you know someone is counting on you.
6. Treat yourself! Making a behavior change is much easier when you’re working towards a goal. You might want to buy yourself concert tickets, a new outfit, or sign up for an event you’ve been wanting to attend. Do whatever will motivate and reward you for your efforts.