One of the hardest things to do is to break an old habit and form a new, better, healthier habit. For many people, kicking the couch-potato habit is one of the hardest habits to break. They may exercise regularly for a short time, but then they slowly stop going to the gym. Before you know it, they are back to ruling the remote. 

Forming an exercise habit is very important for your health. Regular exercise is essential for good cardiovascular health, can increase bone density and balance, lower stress, promote healthy eating and help you get better sleep. Knowing how important exercise is, however, does not always make it easier to form an exercise habit. Here are some tips on how to start an exercise regime and stick to it.

Pick a Good Reason

Why you do something has a huge effect on whether or not your efforts will be sustainable. If you have a reason that matters deeply to you, you will be more motivated to go exercise. What counts as a good reason varies from person to person. For some people, “get healthy” is excellent motivation. For others, it is too vague. They want something that is more concrete such as “lose 10 pounds” or “be able to run a nine minute mile.” Do some brainstorming and think about what really motivates you. What reason would be enough for you to haul yourself over to the gym even when you really do not want to go?

Measure and Record

“What gets measured gets done.” There is quite a bit of truth in this saying. When it comes to exercise, it may not be easy to find good ways to measure your progress, especially if weight loss is not a serious goal. There are, however, plenty of ways to calculate your personal improvement without the use of a scale. You could test yourself every Friday and see how quickly you can run a mile. You could keep track of the weights you are lifting and set a goal to up all your weights by 10 pounds by the end of the month. You could check your heart rate at the end of the workout. You could measure how long you can hold a plank or how many squats you can do before your legs give out. If you use cardio machines like treadmills, bikes or ellipticals, keep track of your incline and resistance. As your workout gets easier, you can increase the incline, resistance, time, distance or some combination of those. Keep track of your workouts and use your past improvements to keep you going when you start losing motivation.

Set a Routine

Habits are difficult to break because they bypass the part of the brain that uses conscious thought and choices. Habits are, literally, automatic. While this is a pain for anyone who has tried to stop biting their fingernails or surfing the web at work, the automatic nature of habits can be very helpful for those trying to create and stick to an exercise program. Take advantage of your brain’s nature by making exercise a constant part of your routine. Every night, go straight to the gym after work, or get up each day and begin your morning with a run. Resist the urge to take a night off or skip a morning when you are tired. Stick to your routine, and it will become habit. You will no longer have to make yourself go exercise. You will simply look up to find that you have, out of habit, wandered over to the gym.

Find When Works Best

Some people like to work out in the morning. It is their equivalent of a cup of coffee each day. Others, however, prefer to come home after work and then exercise to use their workout to unwind and shake off the stresses of the day. Still others take advantage of their lunch hour to get in a quick run. Do some experimenting and find out what works best for you. Do you struggle to get up in the morning, or do you have no willpower when you get home from work? Find the time when you are most in the mood to exercise or fits best for your schedule. Then, have that be your designated workout time.

Do What You Enjoy

It is easier to stick to a pleasant routine than an unpleasant one. So, exercise in a way that you enjoy. If you like to run, find the best walking trails in the local park. If you enjoy swimming, find an indoor pool so that you can swim all year round. If you prefer to take classes, such as yoga or Zumba, join a gym that offers those sorts of classes. If you are a biker, stick to an exercise bike. If cardio is not your thing, do some more serious weight training. What precisely you do is not what matters the most. You simply need to be doing something for exercise. 


The odds are that you have something you consider to be your relaxation activity. It could be watching TV or scrolling through Facebook. Such activities can be done while you are working out. Take your tablet or smartphone with you to the gym and watch your favorite shows while you work out. Depending on the set up of the gym where you exercise, you may not even have to take your tablet with you. A number of places have equipment that comes with a built in screen that can reach the internet.

Multitasking with something enjoyable helps your mind associate working out with something pleasant. It also helps get you to the gym itself. You are likely to be far more interested in working out when you know the season finale of your favorite show is on.

Creating and sticking to an exercise routine does not require a rocket scientist. Simply do a little self-reflection, and then exercise when and how works best for you. Be patient with your progress, and before you know it, you will look and feel like the superhero you are.
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