We asked 10 different health and fitness experts for their top recommendations for helping people form the habit of regular exercise.
Here are their answers:
1. Find a workout routine that you like and offers you some flexibility.
Alisa Wyatt, fitness and wellness expert and blogger at Athleticulture, says:
“Fitness should fit your life! Know yourself and don’t sign up for a class at the gym 3x a week if you have to turn your life upside down to get there. The added stress will be de-motivating and you might end up not going at all. If your schedule is an issue, choose workouts that offer some flexibility. Power walking, jogging, or online video workouts are good options that you can do anytime, anywhere and you’re not locked into a specific class time or length.
Two is better than one, so have a workout buddy! Having a partner to hold you accountable will keep you on track. Reporting your activity and progress to a friend can make a real difference to your commitment level and you can motivate one another to stick with it.
Explore! Try out some different activities to find what you enjoy, and don’t give up if the first classes or sports you try aren’t a good fit. All of your friends might be signing up for yoga, but you might find out that you prefer a team sport, tennis, dancing, or pilates. The opportunities are endless. The key is not signing up for the latest fad, but to figure out what makes you feel good mentally and physically.”
2. Build an accountability community, set measurable goals and throw out your weight scale.
John Paul Engel, strength and conditioning coach and triathlete at Project Be The Change, says:
1. Build a community
Remember going to practice after school. Having working out partners keeps you accountable and encourages you. I have a group that meets at 7 am every Sunday for a long run or triathlon regardless of the weather. We call it church of the long run.
2. Post your workouts
I post my workouts to 800 people. If I don’t workout lots of people in my life know it.
3. Set a specific measurable goal
I decided I would do an Olympic distance triathlon in one year. At the time I didn’t know how to swim, I didn’t own a bike, and I couldn’t run two blocks. However, I knew exactly what race I was going to do and I told everyone.
4. Put up reminders
The little decisions make the difference. I put up reminders on my PC, in my truck, on the fridge, bathroom member. Places I would see them and keep my goal constant in my mind.
5. Find a coach
Even Michael Jordan had a coach. Find someone who will tell you like it really is and won’t sugar coat it. Someone who will challenge you and who knows what they are doing.
6.. Eat clean
Avoid processed food because of the chemicals and the sugar. The average American consumes 165 lbs of sugar a year. Our grandparents only consumed 5 lbs. a year. Eat like your grandparents. Try writing down what you eat.
7. Throw out your scale and get a tape measure.
Muscle is more compact then fat. As you lose weight you will shrink. Scales can be all over the place depending on
water weight. Use a tape measure every 3-4 weeks to measure progress.
A pound of fat burns 50 calories a day and a pound of fat 1 calorie. Build your furnace. Add 10 lbs of muscle and you will have 25% more energy and the fat will burn off.
3. Don’t make excuses. Here are some good responses to common excuses.
Lisa Reed, TV Fitness Expert and IFBB Pro Trainer at Lisa Reed Fitness, says:
“Excuse #1: “I’m too exhausted.”
Working out will rev you up! Once you start working out your fatigue will disappear. Exercise releases endorphins, feel good hormones and it improves your circulation, which means more energy.
Excuse #2: “I don’t have time.” or “I am too busy.”
You need to make exercise a priority for it to become a habit. Incorporate it into weekly lunch time or morning routine.
Excuse #3: “I have kids and a family life gets in the way.”
Wake up before them, work out with them using guided workout DVDs, fitness video games, hiking, etc. Taking time out for your fitness shows your kids what it means
Excuse #4 “You are not feeling like it.”
Whether you are sore, or “don’t feel well” are “bloated” to go to gym… do this:
Have a list to friends to call to see if one will jump and go with you or meet you. A good rule of thumb is if you are sick: if it’s above neck you are ok for light exercise. If you are injured, do another body part workout. If you have menstrual cramps then exercising will reduce symptoms and release toxins making you feel better!
Sometimes when you don’t feel good and just start doing a light jog or a set of push-ups your mood shifts and you will be happier that you did!”
4. Get a fitness accountability buddy to work out with and to keep you motivated.
Syd Hofman, health and wellness educator and author of All-Day Energy at Syd Hoffman, says:
“Grab a buddy …the easiest way to stick with an exercise program is to have set times you meet a fun motivated person who you enjoy being with. Walk, hike, or bike …bonus points for working out in the morning…you are more likely not to cancel and your metabolism runs higher for the next 2 days. “
5. Shift your mindset and start thinking about fitness as a long-term relationship.
Lisa Nordquist, ACE certified personal trainer, wellness author and blogger at Love Yourself Fit, says:
“I recommend a shift in mindset above all else. Start thinking about fitness the same way you would a marriage or long-term relationship (with a parent, friend or child).
Our long-term relationships model means daily showing up, whether the task is pleasant or not. For example, a toddler crying in the middle of the night or the call from an upset friend will get you out of bed at 2 am and call you into action immediately even though that action is unpleasant. We show up for relationships, when they are difficult or easy.
Self-care (fitness) is exactly like a relationship: it will have ups and downs, it requires you to be there daily or regularly, it’s got to fit into your life and not ruin your holidays, and most importantly, you have to like waking up to it everyday–like a mate.”
6. Set clear goals by scheduling your workouts in your calendar.
Kyra Williams, NASM certified online personal trainer and blogger at The Get In Shape Girl, says:
“Put it on your calendar. The workouts from my site are set up to go straight to my clients’ calendars on their phone. They just plug in the time they are going and their workouts are there for them.”
7. Keep it simple by starting really small and only try to change one habit at a time.
Shane McLean, ACE Certified Personal Trainer at The Balance Guy, says:
“Keep it simple. With a ton of information on health and fitness it’s easy to get the dreaded ” paralysis by analysis” and do nothing. Just start with 10 min of exercise and tomorrow do 11 min. The next day try doing 12 min.
Change one habit at a time. Leo Babatu in his book ‘The Power of Less’ wrote “In order to create a sustainable habit you need to address one habit at a time.” His research tells us that you will have a 85% success rate adopting one new habit at a time. Trying to change two habits at once the success rate to 33%.”
8. Use a visualization exercise to build motivation for your new exercise habit.
Jim Kellner, Certified Hypnotherapist, personal development author at Jim Kellner Hypnotist, says:
“Use this visualization exercise to imagine yourself having achieved your fitness goal:
1. *Make yourself comfortable.* You can be sitting, laying down, or even standing up. Your eyes can remain open or closed depending on how you can most easily access your imagination.
2. Fast forward your imagination into your future to the day when you already achieved your goal (lost weight, gained confidence around others, attained 6-pack abs, etc.)
3. While you are in that scene, imagine looking at yourself so you see the successful you directly in front of you.
4. *Become aware of the posture of that future you*, look at the clothing you are wearing and see what color and texture.
5. Notice what you are doing, where you are living, the people you are interacting with, the activities you are engaging in.
6. Notice the sounds that you hear: The words people are saying to you, the sounds around you, the sound of your breathing, the hum of the engine of the car you are driving, etc.
7. *Now step into that future version of yourself*. Looking through your own eyes, seeing through those eyes, hearing through those ears, and feeling that feeling of success with that body.
8. You might even notice the smells and the tastes. Such as the taste of the nutritious food, or the smell of the ocean around you.
9. Move around in that body: Engaging in the activities you’ll be engaging in as if you are experiencing it right now.
10. *Now imagine everything brighter, bolder, and more colorful.*
11. *Make the sounds clearer, louder, and more distinct.*
12. *Make the feelings (physical and emotional) more concrete, stronger,
and more intense.*
13. Amplify the sounds and increase the intensity of the feelings.
14. Imagine moving through that new world that you’ve created with
absolute unstoppable confidence, power, and self-assuredness.
15. Breathe in that new you, that new life. Fill your lungs with possibility as you imagine now lock in all that you have just experienced so that you now possess all of the skills, abilities, and confidence of that future you right here, right now! Knowing that you have just created your new reality.
Feels good, doesn’t it?”
9. Find an exercise you like and ideally do it in the morning (or try breaking it up throughout your day).
Carol Michaels, Creator of Recovery Fitness, an exercise program designed to help cancer patients, Carol Michaels Fitness says:
“Exercise first thing in the morning when you have more energy. It will also reduce stress, which will help you to control your food intake.
You can break up exercise into several 10-minute exercise sessions.
Walk at lunchtime.
Save time by using High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Think about which exercises you like to do and you will be more likely to do them.
Book a vacation which will motivate you to exercise in order to look good at the beach.”
10. Regularly change up your fitness routine to keep things fresh.
Shannon Clark, AFLCA Certified Personal Trainer and Writer at FitRated, says:
“To make exercise a routine, you need to have fun doing it week after week, that’s what is difficult. Instead of lifting, try rock climbing or another cardio exercise. Instead of lifting on the same machines on the same days, swap days, swap the order of machines. Add drop sets which remove rest periods or super-sets which combine opposite muscle groups. If you are simply looking to get in better shape and stay motivated, have fun doing it. Experiment with your workouts and you will be rewarded.”
What has worked best for you? How did you successfully form the exercise habit? Let us know in the comments.