Making Exercise a Daily Habit
5 Tips for Making Exercise a Daily Habit
There is no doubt that exercise is good for our health. From weight control, to heart health to cancer prevention, regular movement is a key to a healthy life. In fact, if they could put the benefits of exercise into an easy-to-take daily pill, it is a prescription we would all take. But knowing it is good for us often isn’t enough to help us incorporate it into our daily lives.
Below are 5 simple things you can do to help make exercise a habit.
- Start small. When making health changes, we often tend to think big. Having a goal to exercise for 45 minutes every day may be a great target. But if your recent track record shows you have only managed to exercise sporadically for 15 minutes at a time, it is unlikely you will sustain a sudden personality change and become a daily exerciser overnight. Start with small targets that feel easy to achieve such as a 15 minute walk 3 days a week. Then use the momentum and sense of achievement you gain from this to work towards bigger targets. You may be surprised how quickly you get to the end goal when you make achievable targets along the way.
- Find something you enjoy. Our brains are wired for pleasure. If you are going to make exercise a regular habit, it is more likely to stick if you actually enjoy the process. There is so much conflicting information out there about “the best type of exercise”, but the best exercise is the one you look forward to doing. So if you’d prefer a walk on the beach than a high-intensity exercise class then choose that activity. If you’re not sure what you enjoy, speak to friends and see what they enjoy and try different things. Soon you’ll find the exercise that YOU love.
- Habit Stacking. It is much easier to create a lasting habit if you stack it against a habit that you already do. So rather than just set a goal of “walking every day”, if you attach it to a current habit and time such as “walking every day before my morning coffee” you are much more likely to succeed. You can even take it one step further and make the coffee a reward such as “only have my coffee after my morning walk”. This may seem simple but you’ll be amazed how much quicker you develop healthy habits when you use this trick.
- Make it social. For many people, making exercise a social event not only makes it more enjoyable (see Tip 2 above), it also creates accountability. Making a date to meet a friend for a walk makes it much harder to find excuses not to get those walking shoes on and in no time at all you’ll look forward to your exercise sessions as a great time to catch up with friends.
- Get advice from someone you trust. Getting started with exercise can be daunting, especially if you have a history of injury or illness. If this is the case for you, find someone with experience and expertise that you can trust. There are few injuries or illnesses that won’t benefit from exercise, but it should be under the guidance of a professional who knows how to help you achieve your goals without flaring any pre-existing conditions.
Freedom Health has a team of experts who can help you find movement that you enjoy. From hip, back and knee pain, to personal women’s health concerns, we have someone who can help you achieve your movement and health goals.
Cath Julius is a Physiotherapist with expertise in Hip and Lumbar diagnosis & treatment.
After graduating in 1998 from Melbourne University Cath spent many years working within some of the largest Sports Medicine Practices in Australia. Working closely with top Sports Medicine Physicians, Orthopaedic Surgeons and other health professionals gave her an amazing grounding in all aspects of injury assessment and management.
Cath is the owner and Consultant Physiotherapist at Freedom Health Physio & Pilates in Papanui, Christchurch.