From Couch to Consistency: Easy Steps to Maintain Your Exercise Habit

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David Dack

Working out is key to feeling energized, managing stress, and maintaining good health. But let’s be honest, sometimes the comfort of the couch wins over the gym. It’s easy to find excuses to skip a workout, and they can be quite creative!

Sounds familiar? Then know you’re not alone. Many people struggle to find the motivation to exercise consistently.

This article is here to help you replace those excuses with a genuine enthusiasm for fitness.

Through my interactions with friends and readers, I’ve heard numerous stories about struggles to maintain a regular workout routine. The good news is that I’m going to share some simple strategies that have helped me and many others. These tips aren’t complicated, but they can be incredibly effective in helping you achieve your fitness goals.

Let’s get started!

Create A Ritual

Consistency is key when it comes to establishing an exercise routine. The goal is to make your workout as habitual and automatic as your daily morning rituals, like brushing your teeth or skincare routines.

The concept here is to turn exercise into a ritual, removing the internal debate of whether to exercise or not, especially early in the morning when motivation can be low.

For instance, imagine setting a goal to run three times a week in the morning.

To make this a ritual, you could create a routine around it: wake up, freshen up, make your favorite morning beverage (coffee or tea), get dressed in your running gear, and start your run. This structured approach can transform exercise from a task into a regular part of your day.

runner using workout journal

Do it Early

The adage “The early bird catches the worm” can apply to exercise routines as well. Research indicates that people who work out in the morning are often more consistent with their fitness regime.

One study from the University of North Texas suggests that exercising early in the day may lead to quicker improvements in fitness compared to exercising later. The reason? In the morning, your energy and willpower are at their peak, and there are fewer distractions and less chaos from the day’s activities.

Morning exercise sets a positive tone for the day, whether it’s running or hitting the gym.

To make this easier:

  1. Alarm Strategy: Place your alarm, possibly set to an energetic song, across the room. This forces you to get out of bed to turn it off, helping you wake up.
  2. Prepare the Night Before: Lay out your workout clothes and gear before going to bed. This simplifies your morning routine and reduces the effort needed to get started.

Schedule Your Sessions

The difference in consistency often boils down to one simple practice: scheduling. This approach turns exercise into a non-negotiable part of your routine, much like any other important appointment.

Life can be unpredictable, and without a set plan, gym time can easily be overlooked in favor of other activities like watching TV. The solution is to treat workouts as fixed appointments in your calendar, giving them the same priority as work meetings or family events.

This habit of scheduling workouts isn’t just a personal recommendation; it’s backed by research. A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that individuals who scheduled their exercise sessions (even just mentally) were more likely to follow through with them.

Be Accountable

Making your workout routine enjoyable is like committing to a coffee date with a friend – it’s an appointment you wouldn’t want to skip because you value that relationship. Similarly, valuing your relationship with your body and health is crucial.

By scheduling your exercise sessions and viewing them as commitments rather than optional choices, you create a sense of accountability. It might be tempting to hit snooze or watch another episode of your favorite show, but having your workout noted in your calendar serves as a gentle reminder of your commitment to fitness.

It’s important to remember that it’s not about finding time for exercise; it’s about making time for it. When you start to include your fitness goals in your daily schedule, alongside other important events like birthdays or meetings, they become an integral part of your day that you’re less likely to overlook. This approach helps in making exercise a regular and enjoyable part of your lifestyle.

Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself is an effective way to stay motivated in your fitness journey. Associating positive rewards with exercise can make the whole process more enjoyable and something to look forward to.

This approach works because it taps into the brain’s reward system, particularly dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. When you reward yourself after exercising, you create a positive association in your mind, making exercise feel not just beneficial for your body but also immediately gratifying.

To get started, here are some ideas for post-exercise rewards:

  • Enjoy a healthy, fruity dessert.
  • Spend time reading the next chapter of an engaging book.
  • Browse your favorite websites or online shops.
  • Take a refreshing power nap.
  • Treat yourself to a nice meal at a favorite restaurant.
  • Watch an episode of a popular TV show.
  • Book a relaxing massage session.
  • Relax with a glass of your favorite wine.
  • Unwind in a soothing bubble bath.
  • Start a ‘sweat fund’ by putting aside a small amount of money for each completed workout.
  • Buy a new book or another small reward that you’ve been wanting.

Focus on the Habit First & the Results Later

In a world where quick results are often prioritized, it’s important to focus more on the process and the habit rather than just the end results. The tendency to seek immediate outcomes, like rapid weight loss or improved marathon times, can lead to frustration or burnout if these goals aren’t achieved as quickly as expected.

A more effective approach is to embrace the journey and focus on establishing consistent habits. For instance, instead of fixating solely on losing a certain amount of weight, concentrate on the actions that will get you there, like committing to regular jogging sessions.

Habits form the foundation of our goals. They are the daily actions and routines that propel us towards our objectives. By shifting the focus from the outcome (“I want to shed 20 pounds”) to the process (“I’m committed to jogging four times a week”), you cultivate resilience and a sense of accomplishment in your daily efforts.


The key to building an exercise habit is to make it as easy as possible to do your workout. Go for exercises that you like, keep your workouts comfortable and simple,  and focus on showing up every day—even if you do not see any progress.

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