Here’s a sad fact: About half of those who start a new exercise program abandon it within three to six months. The reason is no mystery—people are lazy. It’s not our fault. Evolution has instilled in each of us a strong instinct to avoid unnecessary exertion. So if you want to build a lasting exercise habit, you need to overcome this instinct.
The good news is that in recent years, the busy field of exercise psychology has come up with a number of effective tricks to help us in this process.
- Find the right fit. Ask your personal trainer or biokineticist to assist you in finding the right type of exercise that suits you.There are literally dozens of effective forms of exercise (weightlifting, walking, running, tennis, yoga, swimming, basketball, bicycling—the list goes on). The best one for you is whichever one you’ll enjoy enough to stick with.
- Deflate the No-time Excuse. Another important adherence trick is scheduling. Lack of time is the number-one cited reason for failure.Instead of beginning each day with a general intention to exercise, plan a specific activity for a specific time and place 24 hours in advance. These tips can help you fit a workout into even the busiest schedule:
• Reduce the amount of time you spend watching TV.
• Find other ways of reducing “waste” from your schedule. Consider even moving closer to your workplace to reduce commute time.
• Go to bed 30 minutes earlier and exercise first thing in the morning.
• Choose an activity that you can do anytime, anywhere—such as jogging.
• Find a way to work out during your lunch break.
• Combine your workouts with another daily necessity, for example by running errands on foot instead of in the car.
- Use the Pleasure Principle. The discomfort of exercise is one of the primary causes of quitting. Adjust your exertion so that feelings of revitalization tend to go up following exercise and feelings of exhaustion go down. The better you’re able to do this, the more likely you are to be back for more tomorrow.
- Give it purpose. People are more likely to stick to an exercise routine if workouts have an immediate practical purpose. For example, walking on a treadmill has no immediate practical purpose, but walking your dog does. Riding a stationary bike has no purpose, but riding a bike to and from work does. If you can find a way to kill two birds with one stone with an activity, chances are greater you’ll keep at it.
- Set goals. In order to experience successes in exercise, it helps to set measurable goals, so there’s no doubt whether you’ve achieved them. A special short-term goal that he calls the four-week rule. You simply promise yourself you won’t miss a workout for the first four weeks. This gives you the no-excuses attitude you’ll need to build momentum, but at the same time, because it’s a shallow time horizon, it allows you to see light at the end of the tunnel.Other examples of sensible short-term goals are as follow:
• Increase your training schedule from four workouts to five next week
• Increase your circuit training workout from one circuit to two circuits next week
• Complete a 10K running race in three weeks
• Reduce your waist measurement by one inch in one month
• Lose 10 pounds in one month
• Reduce your body fat percentage by five percent in 50 days
- Make it a team effort. Training with a friend, getting a biokineticist, and joining some kind of exercise group (e.g. a bicycling club) are other effective ways to get social motivation.