If you're making a few healthy lifestyle resolutions for 2020, exercising regularly should definitely be on your list – if not at the top, then close to it. But to make exercise a natural part of your routine, it needs to become a habit. Why? Because the more you do something, the easier and more automatic it becomes, and the more likely you'll be to keep doing it.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Chances are you've seen this popular quote before – often attributed to Aristotle, it was actually written by American philosopher Will Durant. And it sums up what a habit is rather neatly: it's simply something we repeatedly do until it becomes second nature. And as Durant pointed out, habits can lead to excellence, which is great news for your exercise routine.
But how long do you have to repeatedly do something until it actually becomes a habit, as natural to you as brushing your teeth or eating breakfast? Well, it turns out there's a scientifically researched answer to this question. A 2009 University College London study, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, found that it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit, with the average time being 66 days.
So, now that you know how long it takes, what positive steps can you implement to make exercise a healthy new habit?
1. Be intentional.
It’s much easier to follow through on a clear and well-thought-out plan, so decide what you're going to do, when you're going to do it, and where you're going to do it. It’s a good idea to choose a time that works well with your schedule, and you can also set a reminder on your phone in case you get distracted.
2. Be prepared
Pack your gym stuff the night before and put your bag at the door so you don't forget it. It's always worth doing a bit of prep to make sticking to your resolutions that much easier.
3. Do what you enjoy
Find it harder to work out on your own but enjoy doing group exercise? Join that exercise class you've been wanting to try. Love running? Grab your shoes and hit the road – or join a running club for social interaction and support. Remember, the more you enjoy doing something, the more likely you’ll be to stick with it.
4. Recruit a workout buddy
You've probably heard this before, but it really does work. Find a friend to work out with you, so you can motivate and support each other on your shared fitness journey. Plus, it’s just more fun to exercise with a buddy.
5. Be kind to yourself
Skipped a workout? It happens – just don't, well, make a habit of it. Consistency is key when forming a new habit, so be sure to make your next session. It's also important to feel good about the positive steps you're taking, so remember to celebrate when you reach important milestones on your journey. You can do it!
From yoga and Pilates to Real Fitness Kickboxing and personal training, Elixr has something for everyone. Keen to get started? Check out our timetable and sign up for a class today.