Good HabitsThere are some things we just do without thinking. In fact, skipping these automatic activities feels strange. That’s because these activities have become habits. Other activities like exercise, well, not so much…at least not yet. Believe it or not, exercise can be established as a habit just like any other activity. Here’s how.


Use the power of association

Probably the first thing you do when you get in your car is fasten the seat belt. Next, maybe you turn on the radio. The act of getting in the car is associated with fastening your seat belt and turning on the radio. You can set up a similar scenario with exercise. Just as you have developed the habit of drinking tea or coffee in the morning, you can develop the habit of exercising as in the morning.


Support your developing habit by:

  • Sleeping in your workout gear. Wearing the gear can be another helpful association as in, I always workout when I wear exercise clothing. An added bonus is you’ll save a little time in the morning.
  • Starting where you are. You don’t have to exercise for a whole hour. 10 to 30 minutes is an excellent start.
  • Being realistic. It takes about 66 days to develop a new habit. That’s far more than the 21 days we have all heard about for years.


Take note

Calendars aren’t just for meetings. Use yours to schedule your workout time at the beginning of the week. Share your calendar with others to boost accountability. You’ll likely get some helpful encouragement and support, too.


Paper blocks with penKeep a journal

Take a few moments to think about why exercise is important. When you become really excited about the “what’s in it for me” motivation to exercise (your why), the how will be easier. There will be setbacks and plateaus. Review your goals and understand the source of your motivation to get over the humps.


Support your developing habit by:

  • Tracking your activity and progress. Write about what you did and how you felt during and after exercise.
  • Taking measurements. When the scale doesn’t move, you may find victory in lost inches.
  • Recording changes in mood, sleep habits and energy levels. Maintaining a healthy weight is only one benefit of regular exercise. Other benefits include lower levels of depression and chronic illness.


Get help from a friend

Having a friend who is also a partner in health increases the likelihood you will show up for exercise – even when you don’t feel like breaking a sweat. Besides, working out together is just more fun. Share as much detail as you can with each other about why you want to make exercise a priority. Understanding the motivation will help you encourage each other when times get tough.


Plan a reward

Using a when and then strategy is a good way to do this. Here are some examples:

  • When I have been exercising three times per week for one month – then I can (insert reward here).
  • When I finish my exercise today – then I can watch my favorite show.


Share your big and small exercise accomplishments with supporters so they can reward you, too. If you fall out of the habit for a few days, or even weeks, try again. The benefits of exercise to your physical and emotional health make it worth the effort.