7 Ways to Make Exercise a Lifestyle Habit

If you’re looking to make exercise habit, but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place.

As you already know, regular exercise is one of the most effective ways of improving overall health and well-being levels.

In fact, most people generally admit that they should exercise more often.

Here is the truth:

Starting a new fitness routine is simple.

The difficulty, of course, lies in making it consistent.

In fact, sticking to an exercise program is one of the hardest things to establish.

I know. Been there, done that.

But fret no more. Today I got you covered.

How to Make Exercise a Lifestyle Habit

In this post, I’ll share with you some of the rules to make it easier to plan, prepare, and stick your workout routine.

Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be well on the way to making exercise a part of your lifestyle in no time.

1. Make Your Goals Easy

A common mistake many beginners make is to expect too much too early.

I understand.

We are a society that’s wired to expect instant results. We want it, and we want it now. Not later.

But when you apply this logic to exercise, you’re bound to cause more harm than good. In fact, that’s how discouragement (and burnouts) occurs.

If you haven’t done much exercise lately, it will be stupid—and quite reckless—to pick a goal like a bench pressing 200 pounds or completing a marathon in three months as a realistic objective.

As you take your first few steps, make sure your goals are easy, simple, and realistic.

Set the bar so low that’s virtually impossible for you not to succeed. Success, after all, is a relative term.

You got to decide what it means to you.

If it means just being able to run for 20 minutes without panting for air or going to the gym for a couple of times per week, then it’s all good.

Be successful on your own terms, said otherwise.

2. Find Your Favorite Exercise

When you do something you enjoy, you’re likely to stick to it.

By the same token, if you hate running or going to the gym, it’s virtually futile to get a new pair of running shoes or a gym membership.

What’s the point in investing both money and time on something you dislike doing? It’s just a waste—and you don’t want that.

There are different workouts to get you sweating, so go for something you actually enjoy.

I happen to love running and weight lifting (the perfect combo), but you might feel otherwise. And there is nothing wrong with that.

In fact, I encourage you to think (and feel) for yourself. Carve your own path. Do not follow someone else’s footpath—unless that trail is taking you where you want to go.

3. Do it Regularly

A common thread that runs through most unfailing exercisers is that they work out almost every day, usually before the sun comes up or late the evening.

So, to make exercise part of your lifestyle, especially during the first few weeks, don’t skip a day.

When it comes to the exact length required to build a habit, the length of time varies from one person to the next, depending on many factors, including:

  • The habit being formed,
  • Environmental factors,
  • The intensity of your emotions, and
  • Your own personal preferences and conditions

In other words, no suit fits all.

You’ll find that some habits—usually the healthy ones with the most impact—are harder to form while others require less effort.

According to research, it can take you up to six to eight weeks to form an exercise habit—that’s longer than the 21- day urban legend, a belief common among many people.

What I recommend is to commit to exercise for 45 to 60 days to keep it simple.

That might seem too long, but, believe me, time passes by. You won’t even notice it.

And the long-term rewards are worth tenfold the effort. Just make sure to make it through the initial conditioning phase—the first three to four weeks.

During this period, the rest of your life should be structured around finding—and creating— time every day to do it consistently.

Then, it’s downhill from there. The exercise routine will become much easier to sustain.

4. Make it a Priority

For most people, exercise is considered to be a luxury—something to get done when one has enough time and money.

Because of this mentality, exercise is usually one of the first things placed on the backburner when life gets hectic.

That said, if you’re serious about making exercise a lifestyle habit, you need to prioritize it. You gotta carve out time out of your calendar for exercise, and never deviate nor cancel it for anything.

So, jot down your workout on your calendar, and rearrange the rest of your life around this one hour as if it were the most crucial appointment you have to keep.

Treat your workouts like other pressing priorities, such as seeing the doctor, meeting your crush, a new job offer, etc. instead of something you fit in whenever you got some free time to burn.

What gets prioritized gets done, as I always say.

5. Set Reminders

After exercise becomes a part of your lifestyle, you won’t need a reminder. But, in the first few weeks, it’s easy to forget if you don’t have reminders set up the right way.

In fact, you’re more likely to mess it up in the beginning if you skip this vital step.

So, be sure to set up triggers to remind you to follow through with your exercise plan each day, or you might miss a few days. And once that happens, forming the exercise habit will be much harder.

In fact, breaking the chain will defeat the purpose of setting an exercise habit to begin with.

Here are a few ways:

  • Set an alarm on your mobile phone to remind you to exercise.
  • Use the reminder function in the calendar app when using a digital calendar.
  • Place Post-it notes on your computer, TV, bedside table; everywhere.
  • Opt for an app, like Lift, to remind you to strive for your goal of working out every day.

6. Track Your Exercise(s)

What cannot be measured does not exist. This might sound like a slight exaggeration, but it does not make it less true—especially when it comes to exercise.

Here is the truth.

I don’t think you’re serious about making exercise part of your lifestyle until you start tracking progress.

Tracking your sessions is crucial because it helps you tell whether you’re heading in the right direction or whether you actually need to re-adjust your approach.

After all, no one can be perfect all the time.

Further, by keeping tabs on your everyday performance stats, you’ll find a desire within yourself to constantly improve.

And science agrees. Research reveals that when people monitor their efforts, they exercise consistently and enjoy it more.

So, please create a workout long and write down all of the information related to your activity.

Sure, this may seem tiresome, but it’s worth the effort.

And it does not have to be complicated. All you need is a small notebook or workout journal, just like this one.

Then simply write down the date, type of exercise(s) performed, and for how long.

For more on this, check my full guide to how to keep a workout journal.

7. Build A Support System

You are responsible for your own failures and successes…let that digest for a moment.

Yet, committing yourself to turn exercise into a daily habit is just half the battle. In fact, you cannot always make a lasting change on your own.

To commit fully, you’ll HAVE to enlist outside help.

That’s why building a healthy social support system is a crucial step in bringing about permanent habit change.

For the very least, committing to another person provides you with an extra push, or a kick in the butt, to force you into action—and sometimes that’s all we need to get going.

So, make your exercise goals public and share how you’re planning to accomplish them.

Give your support system the lowdown on your new workout habit, as well as the exercises and activities you’re committed to doing.

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For the beginner, forming a new exercise habit can quite challenging, but, as we have seen today, there are many ways to make the process easier and more manageable.

And once you get on the track, you’ll be set to go toward making your fitness goals a reality.

The rest is just detail.