3 Simple Ways To Make Exercise a Habit

3 Simple Ways to Make Exercise a Habit

A lot of people want to know how to get motivated to work out and build an exercise habit that sticks.

Of course, wanting to make exercise a habit and actually doing it are two different things. Changing your behavior is difficult. Living a new type of lifestyle is hard. This is especially true when you throw in very personal feelings about body image and self-worth.

But there are some strategies that can make it easier to stick with an exercise habit. Here are 3 simple ways to get motivated to work out and make exercise a habit.

1. Develop a ritual to make starting easier.

Habits are behaviors that you repeat over and over again, which means they are also behaviors that you start over and over again. In other words, if you don't consistently get started, then you won't have a habit. In many ways, building new habits is simply an exercise in getting started time after time.

This means that if you can find a way to make getting started easier, then you can find a way to make building a habit easier. This is why rituals and routines are so important. If you can develop a ritual that makes starting your workout mindless and automatic, then it will be much easier to follow through. You can start by incorporating exercise habits into a current ritual. An example would be to do 10 push ups while you wait for the shower water to warm up. Seems insignificant, but assuming you shower multiple times per week (We hope!) you can look back at the week and add up your reps and be proud when you hit 50 pushups in a week. When 10 becomes routine, do more! Before you know it, you will be a pushup machine!

Another thing to consider is putting your workouts into your planner. Set it as an appointment that way your time is blocked and there is nothing getting in your way.

One research study showed that people who scheduled their workouts each week were 2 to 3 times more likely to exercise over the long run. This is a psychology concept called implementation intention and there are hundreds of studies to back it up.

2. Start with an exercise that is ridiculously small.

The best way to make exercise a habit is to start with an exercise that is so easy that you can do it even when you are running low on motivation. In the words of Leo Babauta, start with something that is so easy you can't say no.


Here's one strategy that you can use in the beginning: The 2 minute rule.

It's very simple: focus on finding a way to get started in just 2 minutes rather than worrying about your entire workout.

Struggling to find motivation to go for a run? Just fill up your water bottle and put on your running shoes. That's all you have to do to consider today's workout a success. Often, this little 2 minute start will be enough to get your motivation flowing and help you finish the task.

3. Focus on the habit first and the results later.

The typical approach to diet and exercise is to focus on results first. Most people start with some type of goal. “I want to lose 20 pounds in the next 4 months.” Or, “I want to squat 50 pounds more six months from now.”

Setting goals is great, but don't focus too much on those longer term goals. We need successes early on to keep your workouts going. That excess weight wasn't added in a week and it won't be lost in a week either. Your first success needs to be establishing the habit. Focus on your ritual first rather than the goal and the goal will take care of itself.

What matters most in the beginning is establishing a new normal and building a new routine that you will stick to; not the results that you get. In other words, in the first 6 months, it is more important to not miss workouts than it is to make progress. Once you become the type of person who doesn't miss workouts, then you can worry about making progress and improving.

Once you build the habit of exercise, you can find thousands of ways to improve. Without the habit, every strategy is useless.

Build the habit first, worry about the results later.  Cheers to your health!

Tom Tkachuk