How to Get in the Exercise Habit

It’s no secret that more people sign up for gym memberships in January than the rest of the year combined. They get the “new year’s resolution” bug, then quickly drop off the map. Most people who set out to build a habit of exercising regularly simply never keep up their commitment.

How can you prevent that from happening to you? How can you make sure that once you start exercising, you’ll establish a habit that’ll last you for years? Here’s how

The Magical 30 Day Mark

If you can get in a consistent habit for 30 days, you’re just about home free. According to Steven Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” habits are either kept or broken within 30 days.

So the goal in establishing the exercise habit is to exercise consistently for 30 days. Although you still need a certain amount of discipline after that first 30 days, the reality is if you can make it to the 30 day mark, you’ll probably be able to keep it up for good.

Getting Started

The first step is to get yourself started on a goal that’s so easy, you’d almost feel embarrassed to tell your friends about it.

If you haven’t worked out seriously for a year, then set a goal to just jog for 5 minutes, 3 or 4 days a week. It might seem absurd to set a goal of jogging for just 5 minutes, but the goal isn’t to challenge yourself yet, it’s just to get in the habit. So make it easy.

When should you increase your 5 minute goal? When you get so bored that you just can’t help it. Then increase it to 10, and once 10 minutes is easy, increase it to 15.

Why it’s So Important to Congratulate Yourself

Anytime you follow through on a commitment, congratulate yourself. You just achieved something most people never do.
Even if you just went on a five minute run, give yourself an emotional pat on the back. You did it!

The better you make yourself feel about achieving the commitment, the more likely you are to follow through on that commitment the next time.

Bringing Others Into the Picture

Anytime you’re doing something challenging that requires discipline, it really helps to bring others into the picture. Other people can help provide emotional and moral support, as well as peer pressure to succeed.

That’s why organizations like Weight Watchers are so successful. Going on a diet on your own is incredibly difficult, but when you surround yourself with like-minded people, it suddenly becomes easy.

Try to find a group of people who you can share your workout and personal health goals with. They can be friends you meet at the gym, the tennis court or while running. Or they could be friends from your personal life that you want to share your goals with.

Whatever the case, try to bring a few people into sharing your goals with you. It’ll make sticking to your plan much, much easier.

Getting to the 30 day mark is tough, but if you start very simply, get others involved in your goals and congratulate yourself every time you follow through, you’ll find hitting the 30 day mark a piece of cake. Once you’ve been exercising consistently for 30 days, it doesn’t require very much discipline to keep up the pace.

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