Something that a lot of us tend to struggle with is making regular exercise a habit. We start with good intentions: we set a goal, we start moving, sometimes we even get to the point of achieving our goal (or close to it) but then something will happen and all of a sudden we’ve fallen off the wagon. When those barriers appear (and they almost always do), the most important thing is how we respond to them. If we are able to overcome the barriers and push through, that’s when we start building the habit.
When exercise becomes a habit it requires a lot less effort. Emma, our resident exercise psychologist, has shared a couple tips on how to get started with building a sustainable habit:
- Set a trigger:
Habits are triggered, so consider setting and associating a trigger that will lead to exercise. Triggers can be time, location and associated behaviours. You can pick a consistent time to exercise each day. For example, if you always exercise at 5pm, your body will be prepared to start moving when 5pm hits. With location, deciding exactly where you will exercise will trigger you to start moving your body whenever you’re there. When it comes to associated behaviours, looking at your routine before exercise can help create a trigger. For example, if you prefer to exercise in the morning, the series of behaviours that occur in your morning routine before you exercise will become the triggers to your exercise habit, like that early morning espresso.
- Remember the reward:
We’ve all heard of that ‘post-workout feeling’, well Emma suggests documenting how you feel when you workout to encourage you to keep on exercising. Noting the feeling of positive energy or satisfaction after a workout in your journal, diary or your phone can help. Once you’ve experienced it enough, you’ll no longer need to document it because your mind and body will remember that feeling and will drive you to keep showing up time and time again.
- Be realistic:
There’s no point trying to create an exercise routine that doesn’t align with your schedule. Exercising for an hour daily may be your goal but if that doesn’t work with your lifestyle then you have to figure out a routine that is actually achievable. It’s best to start small. If daily exercise is the goal then start with 5-10 minutes a day and build from there until you find a routine that becomes second nature. It’s also good to consider what form of exercise works for you. If you try out an exercise that you’re just not that into then it’ll be really difficult to ever motivate yourself to do it. Find an exercise that you love (not your friend/celebrity loves) and stick with that.
So what do we do when life starts life-ing and we break our exercise habit?
We’ve all done it, taken some time away maybe on a literal holiday and recoiled at the thought of doing a workout after having so much time off. Jumping straight back in seems like the most common sense solution and it does work for some people but many others find that they’re too far gone. For those of us who can’t get straight back on the exercise train, Emma suggests revisiting our triggers and rewards and starting again.
It’s also worth giving ourselves grace when trying to rebuild the habit. You may have been able to do a lot more before you broke the habit so adjusting to your current ability is the best approach. It’s more about being consistent with your exercise than about the intensity/duration of the exercise. The more often you’re able to workout, the more likely you’ll be able to return to your original intensity over time.
It could also be time for a switch up. If you find that an exercise you were doing before you broke the habit is no longer hitting the way that it was, try something new. It could be a completely new workout or just a change in the music, instructor, style of the workout or location. It’s all about experimenting and knowing your relationship with exercise is a journey which adapts just like every other relationship in life!
Being consistent can be difficult initially but once you start and acknowledge the small wins, it gets easier, so just hang in there. Whether you’re about to start, are currently building, are stuck in a rut or showing up day after day, we are here to support you Boxx Fam.