There are many beliefs around exercise, and what it takes to go from coach potato to cardio queen/king. But regardless how long it takes you, there is one rule that connects everyone together: cultivating any new habit—no matter how long it takes you—takes work, discipline and repetition. Here’s some science to back it all up, and some tips to turn exercise into your new, healthy addiction!
The Science of Beginning a New Habit
According to a series of studies done at London University, a team of researchers conducted experiments to assess just how long it takes to turn a behavior into a habit. Each of the 96 participants were instructed to pick one new habit, such as “exercising for thirty minutes each day” and then report their findings. In this study—which went on for several months—they discovered that depending on circumstance, it took participants on average two months (some it took up to eight months) to form a new habit, and become likely to stick with it.
Additionally, once you form a new habit—like weekly exercise—into your lifestyle, a missed workout won’t jeopardize your hard work and dedication from the months prior. You can actually use your missteps along the way to becoming a stronger, more determined, fit ‘you’!
Easy Ways to Make Exercise Your Next Daily Habit
As you work on developing a habit of exercise into your life, we know it’s not easy. We also know that the first steps (turning off the TV and heading outdoors for a jog, or cooking for yourself at home when you’re used to eating out for every meal) are often the hardest. Here are some tips—simplified—to help you develop your working out ‘habit’ faster:
· Use your missteps along the way as any scientist would do. When a scientist fails at an experiment, he doesn’t stop evaluating, or refiguring his hypothesis. Instead, he uses his failed experiment as a means for looking at his question in another way, or another light. Do the same with your workouts. If you miss a few workouts and lose steam, look at your challenge in another way.
Are you having fun with your workouts, or are you bored? Are you challenged by them, or coasting along with the same exercise plan that’s not giving you the results you want?
· Put yourself on a workout/sleep/eating plan. Being sleep deprived can cut into your momentum and motivation to continue with your new workout habit, and so can your diet. For the next thirty days, put yourself on a strict, clean eating and sufficient sleep pattern—and see the difference it makes.
While scientific studies showed it took its participants on average two months to form a new habit, it doesn’t mean yours will take that long! Find a form of exercise you love, and have a great time participating in, and you may discover that your newfound addiction to working out is right around the corner.