When I learned how to make exercise a habit, I gained so much control over my life. Exercising was not the only habit I needed to encourage. In fact, my life is still a never ending process of creating better habits.
Let’s first talk about what it takes to create a good habit. The book Atomic Habits by James Clear really opened my eyes on what it would take to make exercise a habit.
There are 4 elements to creating a good habit, and we are going to break down the elements of each habit below. The 4 elements are make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, and make it satisfying.
Some of these elements are a little bit easier to work through, while some of them might give you trouble.
Not to worry, we are going to make sure that you understand each concept to learn how to make exercise a habit.
Before we get into the how-to’s of how to make exercise a habit, I recommend downloading our workout app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). This app was designed to take the guesswork out of working out. You will find workout plans, HIIT workouts, a custom workout plan designer, and more.
Make it Obvious – Part of your daily routine
If you wanted to stop using your smartphone in the morning before getting out of bed, what would you do? To me, the answer is obvious. All you would have to do is put your phone in a different room. That way if you wanted to access your phone, you would have no choice but to get out of bed.
Now, how can I apply this to working out? Do I want you to have a treadmill directly in your path? No, no, no. It is very simple. You will want to do an audit of your day, and find some time in your day to do some sort of workout.
Is there a gym on your way to work? Leave home early and hit the gym on the way to work. Do you work from home? Have a set of dumbbells on the ground next to your desk and do 10 dumbbell curls and 10 shoulder presses after every meeting.
If you want to go all in, you can even build your own home gym from Amazon.
What does all of this even mean? You need to make exercise so obvious that you cannot ignore it.
Make it attractive – You want to be good looking, right?
When you see a good looking person, what do you think? Do you think they got lucky? Do you think they put in work to get to that point? Sure, some people are naturally attractive, but to get a good body, you need to put in work.
Imagine yourself as that attractive person you just saw. Do you think it is a reality? I know it is a reality, because I was once the scrawniest person you have ever seen that no women would even think about dating. Now I am in the best shape of my life and my wife likes the way I look.
Your situation might be different. You might be overweight, underweight, a little fat around the belly, or maybe just average as can be.
What will motivate you is the desire for you to be that person in the best shape of their lives. It doesn’t even matter your age either. Any person can get in great shape. Of course, working out is not the only thing that you need to do, but it is a great start.
If you are wondering about your body and how much calories you consume, I welcome you to take a look at our article about calculating your maintenance calories.
Make it easy – The hardest part of making exercise a habit
Exercising is not easy. It’s as simple as that. If it is easy for you, you probably are not doing it right. But, the goal here is to learn how to make exercise a habit. And we can make a habit easy.
If you completed one workout per year, do you think that would give you 6 pack abs? What about if you worked out for 5 minutes each day for a whole entire year? I think that would increase your odds significantly of reaching your goals.
The point here is that you are going to need to make the habit easy. What if you just did jump squats for 5 minutes per day, and that’s it. That would be a good start, right? Just make it a habit. Jump squats are not easy, but doing them for 5 minutes per day is an easy habit.
I have a friend who has never worked out before. But when he found out he had a free gym in his neighborhood, he started stopping by for 5 minutes on his way to work. He got familiar with the machines and weights, and did a little bit of working out each day.
After a few months of doing this, he started to find more time each morning for the gym. Next thing you know, he started to put on muscle and lose fat.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because getting in great shape requires good habits. And if you want to get in great shape, you have to start the habit of going to the gym, even if it is only for 5 minutes per day at first.
Make it satisfying – My favorite part of exercise habits
If you have never worked out before, you are in for a real treat after your first workout. Sure, you might be a little bit tired afterwards, but you will be on cloud 9 knowing what you accomplished.
I have been working out for many years now, and I still get an incredible post-gym feeling when I am done. It’s no secret that exercising releases endorphins, which triggers positive feelings in your brain.
To me, this is one of the easiest parts of making exercising a habit. Exercising is like a free drug that does not harm you, improves your mood, and strengthens your body.
Of course, when you first start working out, you will definitely experience muscle soreness for a day or 2 after. This is normal, and can actually last up to a week. Once you get in the groove of things, your body will adjust and you will be able to keep going faster.
Main Point – How to make exercise a habit
As you now know, exercising can be put into simple bite sized chunks of habit forming. Make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, and make it satisfying. Seems so simple, doesn’t it?
Anyone who has struggled with making exercise a habit will know that it’s not as simple as it seems. Life events happen and interrupt your gym time. Once that habit streak is broken, you give yourself more leniency.
Make these habits happen! Don’t be lenient on yourself. You deserve for this to be a reality. Remember the classic saying that Rome was not built in a day? Habits stack up over time, whether they are good or bad.
Create this good habit in your life and you will not regret it.
What part of making exercise a habit did you find to be the most difficult?