Making Exercise Your Habit

Starting exercise to lose weight, get fit, tone up and feel stronger are all great reasons to get started. But what can you do to about making exercise your habit?

Exercise can reduce, repair and resist.  Heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, and a raft of other maladies can be affected positively by exercise.

The great thing about exercise is that we can be doing it to get rid of lower back pain at the same time as burning fat and toning muscles.  At the same time it will improve our sleep, reduce depression and anxiety and we will start to feel more positive about ourselves, our relationships and our lives in general.

People decide to exercise for a mix of reasons.

In our initial 1:1 Pilates sessions, where 90% of clients have come to resolve persistent pain issues, they also mention that they would like to drop a jeans size or two. When it is not already a habit we usually decide to commence exercising for extrinsic reasons. To affect change in how we look, or our shape or to rid ourselves of some pain or other.

Exercise for pain management and body composition (industry speak for weight loss and toning up) are the leading motivators for commencing exercise.  But they are the lowest rated reasons given for converting an exercise to a habit.

If an exercise habit is going to become just that there are some super important factors to consider in our choice of exercise type and context. The factors that keep people exercising are:

  • Accountability – usually to others such as friends in a sports team, a personal trainer or teacher
  • Accessibility – hence the appeal of 24/7 gyms and home exercise equipment
  • Outcomes – something to aim for – team sports with a league table, lifting weights on a program that tracks your weight lifted 
  • Intrinsic reward – when it’s all about the feeling
  • Environment – where we exercise effects our experience and our persistence.

As an activity, make a quick list in your head of the three reasons you would exercise.  

If your list includes: lose weight, be more toned, feel fitter/stronger, you’re in good company. Interestingly these are the three most often quoted reasons for commencing exercise.

What’s interesting, is when we compare these reasons with those given by people who exercise on multiple days per week for longer than 6 months. The reasons they give are intrinsic. The way they ‘feel’ after training, some call this an endorphin rush, and describe it as’ satisfied, refreshed, fulfilled. Another reason is the way they feel if they don’t exercise: antsy, frustrated, pissed off with everything around me. A third reason chronic exercisers give for their efficacy is a connection to others.

Team sports tend to lend themselves to the gregarious in nature and it’s not hard to spot the extrovert in the gym.  They’re chatting freely to everyone and anyone, relaxed in their sweaty t-shirt and seemingly completely at peace in anyone’s company. However, even self-described introverts also describe feeling better after playing sport/working out alongside other people.  They often talk about the ‘bond’ they feel with training buddies that they hardly know outside of the studio.

Making exercise a habit is easy when you feel good about it, about yourself and the people you share it with.