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Habit hacks: How to make exercise part of your routine

Resolving to work out is one thing…. sticking to a routine and making fitness a habit is another. 

How is it that some people never miss a workout, while the rest of us ebb and flow with our consistency? 

While everyone is different and you can’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a training session here and there, it is possible to ‘hack’ your way to making exercise a habit. Here are some tips:

Start small
Giving yourself the order to work out might not feel right every day.
So what about ‘Put some workout gear and shoes on’?
It’s a lot easier, right? 
And now you’re dressed, you may as well take the next step. 

There is a book called Tiny Habits that encourages you to start with a small change rather than a big one. It recommends the following: 

  • Start with a tiny behaviour.
  • Find a good spot in your daily routine for this tiny behaviour.
  • Nourish your tiny behaviour so it gets firmly established in your life.

You don’t have to sprint for half an hour on day one. Start with a short walk, give yourself a high-five and build slowly from there. 

Think of the end result
If you’re feeling reluctant to work out, ask yourself how you will feel at the end of your session. 

Exercising releases those feel-good chemicals but you have to do the work to get them flowing. 

Focus on the end result of your workout instead of the discomfort of getting going and you’ll have a better chance of approaching exercise with the right mindset. 

You can also think about your long term goals and remind yourself that you won’t get there tomorrow unless you do the work today. 

How to make exercise a habit: Set yourself a mini-challenge
Give yourself a challenge of working out every other day for two weeks. 

Schedule the time in your calendar each day and reward yourself when you have finished your challenge. In achieving this goal, you’re on your way to forming a habit. 

Add a mantra, e.g. “Rain, hail or shine, I’m running on time” and just go for it. 

Have your gear ready the day before
If you have decided to go with an early workout, place your tights, sports bra, crop top and shoes next to your bed or in the bathroom, or have your bag ready by the door. 

This will save you from rummaging around in the dark and giving yourself excuses not to go. 

Join a team
Wondering how to make exercise a habit? Working out with friends could be the inspiration you need to stick with your workout program. 

You don’t want to let the team down and it feels amazing to work towards something exciting as part of a group. If you know you tend to flake out on your own, this strategy may work for you. 

Find your ‘trigger’
Everyone has different motivation. Making exercise a habit is so easy for some that they feel ‘off’ if they don’t train most days. But we are not all the same.

Have a think about what will inspire you to keep going. It could be a weight loss goal. It could be the fact that you sleep, think and feel better when you exercise. It could be rewarding yourself with an awesome new workout ensemble when you reach a fitness milestone. 

Whatever your ‘thing’ is might be very different from the person next to you. Perhaps it is having the energy to keep up with your kids or knowing you are keeping yourself healthy as you get older. Being aware of your personal trigger will help you hack the habit of exercising and make training part of your life. 

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