How to Create a New Exercise Habit
What’s your morning routine? In other words, what are the first few things you do in the morning? Shower, grab a protein shake…or a muffin?
If you want your life to be better, it’s all about choices. Specifically, choosing to be healthier and happier more fit, and more self-satisfied. These are the most profound choices you’ll ever make, because they have the power to change everything else in your life.
We all make choices every day…Now or later? Here or there? Him or her? This or that? Should I or shouldn’t I?
In fact, you could reasonably say that life is an endless series of choices. They confront us every waking minute. Watch TV or read the paper? Exercise before work our sleep in? Hot fudge sundae or fresh raspberries?
Even when we’re unaware of the choices or don’t recognize them as such, they’re still there to be made…and these choices become habits.
Look around you. Where you are right now is the destination that represents every step you’ve ever taken, every road you’ve ever traveled down, every choices you’ve ever made. Whatever those habits were, however small or large they seemed at the time…which book to read, what shoes to wear…they’re all pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that form a picture of you today. Each one, in its own way, contributed something to making your life what it is today.
If you don’t like where you are right now, don’t despair. You always have choices available to you, which means if you’re not satisfied, you can always make life better. It’s time to begin making better habits, ones that lead to somewhere you want to be. Remember, life is about getting better all the time.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I love this study in the New York Times explaining how to create a new exercise habit.
“To understand how to create habits — such as exercise habits — you must learn to establish the right cues and rewards.
In 2002, researchers at New Mexico State University studied 266 individuals, most of whom worked out at least three times a week. They found that many of them had started running or lifting weights almost on a whim, or because they suddenly had free time or wanted to deal with unexpected stresses in their lives.
However, the reason they continued exercising — why it became a habit — was because of a specific cue and a specific reward.
If you want to start running each morning, it’s essential that you choose a simple cue (like always lacing up your sneakers before breakfast or always going for a run at the same time of day) and a clear reward (like a sense of accomplishment from recording your miles, or the endorphin rush you get from a jog). But countless studies have shown that, at first, the rewards inherent in exercise aren’t enough.
So to teach your brain to associate exercise with a reward, you need to give yourself something you really enjoy — like a small piece of chocolate — after your workout.”