How to Make Working Out a Daily Routine

Published on December 29, 2021 and last updated for accuracy on January 10, 2022
Tips to Make Working Out a Habit

The trouble with attempting to make exercise a habit, as we’ve all experienced, is that you normally try to exercise three or four times each week…

As a result, forming a new workout habit is challenging. The rationale for this is that a consistent action is more likely to become a habit.

In order to achieve my goal of completing an Olympic-distance triathlon this year, I’ve started incorporating this approach in my daily life recently, alternating every day between different exercises: running, swimming, biking, and strength workouts. I’m going to keep changing my habits throughout the month of May. Last year, when I was preparing for my first marathon, I made everyday running a routine, but I stopped this year due to illness, so I’m resuming the practice.

If you want to make this a habit, start with a 30-day challenge, and your habit should be well-established by the end. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way to help you make exercise a daily habit:

1. Make a timetable

Decide if you’ll be more likely to stick with it in the morning, noon, or the evening, and stick to it. I’ve set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. every day, and I’m doing my best to stick to it. You’re more likely to put it off until you have more time or energy, and then put it off until the next day if you don’t establish a time. It won’t be long before it’s no longer a habit.

2. Begin small

This is the most practical recommendation of all. I always start exercising with many energy, excitement, and drive. I believe I am capable of more than I am. However, doing too much at first might lead to burnout, which can lead to you abandoning your habit. When you initially try to make exercise a daily routine, your body is likely to be unaccustomed to that kind of stress.

The idea is to start with simply 20 minutes and take it slowly. There’s nothing difficult here. If you’re just getting started, even 10-15 minutes will suffice. The idea is to get out there, gradually acclimate your body to everyday activity, and establish that habit.

3. Continue later 

After your body has been accustomed to daily exercise, you can gradually increase the volume and intensity of your workouts. Allow your body to acclimate for at least two weeks before gradually increasing your weight.

You can gradually increase the length of your workouts to 30 minutes, 40 minutes, and eventually an hour once it becomes too easy. After then, steadily increase the intensity by, for example, running faster or harder. It’s best not to increase both the distance and the intensity of your workout at the same time.

4. Make it a joyful experience 

You will avoid a habit if you equate it with pain. You’ll look forward to doing it if it’s enjoyable. That’s why I’ve been focusing on pleasure in the early stages of my new habit. I take it slowly, taking in the surroundings, the fresh early air, the lovely sky as the sun rises, and the peaceful time of isolation and reflection. It’s something I truly enjoy doing. It helps to have an MP3 player with some amazing music on it.

5. Arrange your belongings

The less roadblocks and friction you face when creating a new habit, the more likely you are to succeed. You might as well go back to bed if you have to not only get up early but also get a bunch of gear while still half conscious. However, if you lay out your training clothing and shoes, as well as your watch and mp3 player, or whatever else you’ll need for your workout, you’ll be ready to go in no time.

6. Simply walk out the door 

My only rule is to put on my running shoes and head out the door. I’m not concerned with how long it will take or how difficult it will be. Simply get out there and begin. It’ll be a piece of cake once I’ve done it.

7. Mix it up a little

One of the things I like about triathlon training is that everyday exercise isn’t monotonous – instead of jogging every day, I now have a range of sports to participate in, which keeps things interesting.

But, maybe more importantly, each sport requires me to use various muscles, particularly when swimming. Although some of the same muscles are used, they are used in different ways and are subjected to various stressors. That means I’m not beating the same muscles on a daily basis. That allows them to recuperate, because if you don’t, you’ll be breaking your muscles down over and over again.

8. Take a day of relative rest 

Recovery is crucial once more. As a result, you may wish to give your body time to rest. You should be fine without rest days if you take it easy and only exercise for 20 minutes. However, having one day off where you aren’t doing the same activities as the other six days is still beneficial.

You don’t want to fully skip the day since then you won’t be sticking to your routine. That’s why I do strength training one day a week, where I don’t engage the same muscles as when I swim, bike, or run. If you need extra rest, all you may need to do is walk for 20 minutes or meditate for 20 minutes.

The goal is to do something every day, preferably something that gets you moving (meditation isn’t the best example, but at least you’d be moving) and may help you create new habits.

9. Don’t miss a single day 

“No problem, I’ve been doing it for five days…,” it’s easy to say. I’m going to skip today!” However, this will make habit building more difficult. It’s important to stick to a schedule, so don’t skip a day.

If you do, don’t punish yourself, don’t criticize yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it; everyone makes mistakes, and habit building is a skill that takes time to master. Simply restart your 30-day challenge, this time attempting to discover the stumbling block that caused you to miss a day and preparing for it.

6 Mental Strategies to Help You Form A Habit of Exercising

Get your mind in the game — and your body back in the gym — with these helpful tricks.

You’re probably not alone if your workout routine has been inconsistent during the last several months. Summer is a special season because the longer days are filled with after-work plans with friends, family vacations, and weekends spent at outdoor barbecues or the beach, rather than hours spent in the gym.

While the warm weather makes it easier to be active outside, a more unpredictable schedule can make it tough to do so on a regular basis. We can make fitness a more consistent part of our routine now that fall has arrived and work and family duties have re-established themselves.

However, after a few months of laziness, this is easier said than done. Anyone who has attempted to reduce weight, tone up, or simply recommit to exercise understands that the battle is frequently more mental than physical. So we asked Stephanie Mansour, owner of Step It Up with Steph and a personal trainer, for some tips on how she helps her customers overcome that mental barrier. Here are a few of her favorite mental tricks to help you get your mind back in the game — and your body back in the gym.

Begin with small workouts.

Your typical strategy is to go right to work, arranging hour-long gym sessions a couple times a week. Mansour, on the other hand, advises starting small. We’re talking about a 5-minute workout.

“I encourage my weight-loss clients who have never worked out before that they should start with a little workout,” Mansour explains. It’s a quick method to get rid of whatever excuses you might have for not exercising – after all, who doesn’t have five minutes to spare? “Some complain, ‘I don’t have 30 minutes to exercise; I can’t even get to the gym; where do I begin?’ “Start with a 5-minute mini-workout,” she suggests.

Crunches while watching TV, squats while folding laundry, or a walk around the block are all options. “It sounds gimmicky,” Mansour adds, “but these are the types of motions you want to start doing so you can establish that muscle memory.” “In your head, the workout is only five minutes long, and who knows?” You might be inspired to go for another five minutes, and that will continue to grow.”

This is a two-fold mental trick. For starters, it’s simpler to persuade yourself to do anything for five minutes rather than 30 minutes, especially if you haven’t worked out in a while. Beyond that, you’re gradually conditioning your mind to prioritize health and getting your body used to moving, both of which will help you create motivation over time.

Reduce the scope of your objectives.

Setting concrete goals is a wonderful way to get your head back in the game, and research suggests that it can help you modify your food and workout habits. Setting the correct kind of objective, on the other hand, is crucial. One that is too lofty has the ability to discourage us and hinder us from sticking with it. That’s why many health professionals advise us to develop “SMART” goals: those that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Mansour focuses on the “achievable” part by encouraging people to break down their goals into smaller chunks. This could mean lowering your weight-loss target, reducing the quantity of produce you want to consume each day, or cutting your exercise time in half.

It may seem counterintuitive to strive for less, but Mansour cites one of her weight-loss clients who has had success with this strategy: “A step tracker belonged to one of my clients, and the default setting was 10,000 steps per day.

It sounded attainable, but this client was continuously falling short; on most days, she barely made it to 8,000. So I questioned her, ‘Why are you setting this goal for something you’ll never achieve and then feeling so horrible about yourself at the end of the day?’ Mansour agrees.

She claims that the solution is straightforward: go tiny. “You’re instilling in your mind the belief that you’re successful. “If I drop her target to 8,000 steps, she consistently meets it, which makes her feel confident, happy, and strong — as if she can do it,” she explains. After her client gained confidence in her ability to achieve her daily goal, she gradually boosted it to 12,000 steps each day. “It took six weeks, but it’s because of the immediate gratification you get from seeing your objective met or even exceeded by the end of the day; you see that you met or even exceeded your target, and that drives you to keep going,” she adds.

Take a ‘go with the flow’ approach.

“I used to have a client who would get ready for a workout class and if she was five minutes late or got the wrong time for the class, she would just go home instead of working out in the gym,” Mansour recalls.

“She stated she felt defeated and was too humiliated to disrupt the class, so she went home.” (Going home meant eating pizza on the couch to make up for the loss.) (See below for more on the all-or-nothing mentality.)

Instead of retiring to your home, Mansour recommends adopting a “go with the flow” approach rather than being overly strict and controlled. This will allow you to construct a Plan B (and C and D) to fall back on if things don’t go as planned (which will inevitably happen). On days when she was a few minutes late, this client’s Plan B was to hop on a treadmill for the length of class.

This also entails being more adaptable when it comes to incorporating activity into your daily routine. Many of us have preconceived notions about what constitutes “exercise,” but the truth is that if you can’t get to the gym, there are endless ways to incorporate movement into your day.

“If you live in a two-story home, go up and down the stairs for 10 minutes; keep a separate bag in your car and at work with headphones, clothes, and sneakers so you’re prepared; if you walk your dog, commit to walking one block at a faster pace and then one block at a slower pace to add intervals to your nightly chore; if you do laundry, do 10 overhead presses and 10 squats before and after each load,” Mansour says.

Make skipping a workout a deliberate choice.

Many times, skipping a workout isn’t really a decision at all: we sleep late and don’t make it to the gym, or we sit down to rest on the couch when we get home and time flies by.

Mansour encourages individuals to make this a conscious decision rather than something that happens to them. You’re holding yourself accountable — and making an effort — by making it a conscious decision to cancel your training plans.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” she says, referring to gym equipment and clothing. How are we going to keep them in sight? Mansour has a trick up his sleeve: Place your gym bag and yoga mat on your couch so that you may wish to deliberately decide not to exercise before sitting down to watch TV after work, and physically move your workout gear off the couch to sit down.

Other options include sleeping in your workout clothes or putting them on before leaving the office so you have to make the deliberate decision to take them off without exercising, or leaving your sneakers or gym bag out front so you have to make the conscious decision to leave them there. When you have to work extra hard to avoid exercising, you’re more likely to stick to your initial plans.

Don’t limit yourself to a single form of workout.

It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz of fashionable diets and workouts, but health isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, and what works for one person may not work for another. What works for you at one point in your life may not work for you at another.

“Clients come to me all the time saying they’ve been working out for weeks or months and haven’t seen any results,” Mansour adds. “Try something fresh if something isn’t working for you.” Consider what your body genuinely requires. If something isn’t working for you, it’s fine to modify it. If you don’t see any results after four weeks, try a different routine.”

Mansour tells the story of a customer who became dissatisfied when the training and diet plan that had helped her lose weight in her thirties no longer worked in her fifties. But, she says, she was more stressed in her fifties, wasn’t sleeping well, was going through menopause, and was carrying her weight in several places. She lost 15 pounds after switching from kickboxing to yoga (which helped her tone up while also lowering her stress levels).

“Rather than feeling pigeonholed into a specific training schedule, I want everyone to feel empowered to truly be in charge of their own workouts.”

Instead of thinking of each day as an all-or-nothing proposition, consider it as a sequence of options.

“The all-or-nothing mentality does not serve you,” Mansour adds, adding that the majority of her customers have this mindset. Either they start a diet or a weight-loss program and go all in, or they fall off the wagon completely.

“With the holidays approaching, some individuals say things like, ‘I’m going to start my weight-loss objectives in January,’ or ‘I’m going to start eating healthier after the holidays,’ which is self-sabotage,” she continues. “People who are very successful often declare, ‘I’m all in or I’m all out.’ When we look at our health in that light, it’s easy to feel like we’re failing if we don’t accomplish everything.”

We’ve all been there: maybe it was that piece of cake at the office party that sent your diet into a tailspin for the rest of the day (may as well order pizza for supper since you’ve already slipped up, right?). Perhaps you pressed the snooze button one too many times and missed your spin class, so you decided to forgo the workout entirely.

To address this, Mansour suggests that we redefine the way we think about our health, turning it into discrete opportunities to make a healthy choice rather than an overarching long-term project that we must be on top of all of the time. “I urge my clients to make their own decisions. You have, perhaps, 40 health-related decisions to make in a single day. So that’s one if you choose to exercise. Another is if you opt to work out for more than five minutes. On that day, it’s choice after choice that builds on itself. You don’t have to wait till the next day to begin over. It’s all about the individual decisions.”

References:

  1. https://zenhabits.net/how-to-make-exercise-a-daily-habit-with-a-may-challenge/
  2. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/6-mental-tricks-tricks-help-make-exercise-habit-ncna914386
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/feb/08/get-habit-exercise-getting-fitter-new-year-resolutions
  4. https://www.webmd.com/women/exercise-habits
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