Habit-Forming Fitness in Just 5 Easy Steps

I could spend hours building a case for why you should make fitness an integral part of your daily routine. But I’m also under no illusions: working out on the reg is a downright pain in the ass when you’re not in the habit of doing so.

So, what’s the most straightforward way to change your view of exercise from a torture tool to a physical necessity you’ll actually begin to crave? It all starts with developing a game plan. And once you determine how to proceed, you may just surprise yourself by putting that plan into action.

I oughtta know. It’s been almost 6 years since yours truly decided getting in shape would become a lifestyle staple.

And that’s one decision I’ve yet to regret!

1. Commit to exercise during a specific time of day. Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, chances are your body knows when it feels the most energetic. So, set aside at least 30 minutes to work out during this prime period. It could be immediately after waking up or right before going to bed, but choosing a consistent time will remind you to make fitness both a priority and regularity.

2. Associate exercise with another routine activity. If you habitually watch TV every evening after dinner, do crunches, push-ups or other strength training work outs while catching the latest episode of your favorite show. That’s up to 1 hour of physical activity (depending on the program’s length), and you probably won’t even notice those burning muscles with the TV as a distraction.

3. Sneak exercise into errands or office/housework. Instead of taking the elevator at work, opt for the stairs. Avoid parking right by the store entrance when you’re out shopping, park further away and walk across the lot. If you live in a relatively urban area, bike around rather than drive. Turn chores – like cooking, vacuuming, or washing the car – into a work out by doing them vigorously.

4. Assign a different type of exercise to each day. A work out schedule will keep you both organized and on-task. For example: Monday is “leg day,” Tuesday is “core day,” Wednesday is “arm day,” Thursday is “cardio day” (i.e. running, biking, zumba, etc.), Friday is “yoga day,” Saturday is “interval day” (i.e. tabata – cardio and strength training circuits), and Sunday is “recovery day.”

5. Vary your exercise regimen on a frequent basis. The most common culprit of a fizzled out fit ambition is boredom. You start strong, going to the gym every day, then gradually scale back until it’s no longer built into your muscle memory. Monotony often prevents you from moving forward, which is why you should switch up your work outs at least monthly for a fresh jolt of invigoration.

These strategies were highly effective for me, and I hope you’ll find them equally useful in your own pursuit of a habitual healthy lifestyle!

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