tie shoes getting ready to run as a habit

Making exercise a habit and not a task

By Dr Catherine Allison on 06 Mar 2021

Can you believe it’s already June and winter is upon us? For many of us, winter brings with it a shadow of darkness in the form of motivation slump. It’s been months since its been daylight savings and let’s be honest, it’s getting pretty damn hard to bound out of bed!! So how do you ensure that your healthy habits don’t fall to the bottom of your to-do list now that it’s winter and summer holidays feel like an eternity away?

The most important thing to remember is that exercise should be a habit and not a task. Here are 5 tips to help you stay on track and not let the winter blues ruin your winning streak.

Make Sure You Choose An Enjoyable Workout

One of the main reasons I see people falling off the exercise wagon is that they have chosen an activity that they simply don’t enjoy. It sounds simple but more often than not people see exercise as a task to achieve a certain goal, and not surprisingly they lose interest or motivation within a few months. It’s important to find something that brings joy to your life and doesn’t feel like a task. This might mean joining a social team, finding someone who shares your interests to go on a walk with. Whatever you chose to do, it must be something that is worth getting out of bed early for or you simply won’t commit.

Start Small

If you have not worked out in a while, setting unrealistic goals for your daily workout routine might make you start second-guessing your skills, feel overwhelmed and become unmotivated. It is more important to enjoy the time you are exercising than to set a large time up during which you hate every minute of it. After a while, your motivation will increase and you can start to add more into your routine. That way we are thinking about the big picture from the get-go. This will also avoid overtraining early and causing injury which will again knock you off the exercise wagon for 2019.

Schedule your workout into your day

How many times have you set your alarm at some awful hour only to roll over and press snooze for another consecutive day? It is important to make exercise part of your lifestyle and not an additional task you need to add to your ever-growing to-do list. I find it helpful to look at my week in advance and schedule times into my diary for training – this way I’m not playing catch up by Friday. You can also use apps on your phone to save these times and remind you with an alarm that it’s workout time. For the long term make sure you take into account days you have early starts or late finishes so you don’t end up trying to squeeze in a workout when you are not feeling yourself. Remember exercise is meant to be enjoyable.

Have a helpful support system

Having someone to hold you accountable for exercise makes it much easier to get out of bed in the morning. Enlisting a friend to meet you for a workout means you are less likely to cancel as someone is waiting for you! This might mean joining a team, or pre-purchasing class passes etc so you are committed to turning up. When working out with a friend, ensure you chose someone of your similar ability and you will find that you are more willing to push yourself.

Think long term

Any new exercise program needs to be sustainable long term. How often do we see new year resolutions dissolving with the summer heat simply because they are not realistic? When setting your exercise program you need to think long term – look for an event to train for, schedule rest days into your program, find a coach to help you plan out your year, etc. Exercise needs to become a part of your life just like brushing your teeth and eating breakfast. If you want to live a long and healthy life you need to start making exercise a habit and not a chore

So next time you think about joining the gym, registering for a marathon, or signing up to kickboxing, make sure you think about your long term goal and your current situation otherwise you will likely find yourself tucked up in a snuggie with a block of chocolate, wondering how you will ever get that elusive summer body for next year.

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Catherine Allison

Dr Catherine Allison

Catherine is a keen runner and Osteopath in Ocean Grove / Barwon Heads - If you have any questions please reach out as she is here to help

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