How many times have you told yourself you’ll quit smoking, start eating healthy and exercise daily? How many times have you persisted? Why is adopting and maintaining these health and fitness habits so difficult?
If you’re reading this and similar articles, you’ve probably decided to take action and turn those unfulfilled New year’s resolutions into reality. That’s a big step, so we’ve prepared this guide to help you stay on your path to a healthy lifestyle.
First, we’ll explain why it’s so challenging to adopt a good habit and explain the factors influencing the choice of fitness habit, after which we’ll give you tips and tricks on building them.
So buckle up, and let’s get started!
Why Is Building Healthy Habits So Difficult?
Picture this: you decide to stop eating sugary foods, and for the next two weeks, you cook healthy meals every day and immediately notice you’re feeling much better. Then, one day, a friend offers you some candy, and against your better judgment, you take it.
It’s all downhill from there, and you quickly relapse into your old junk food habits. Why do you think it’s so hard to resist this temptation but so easy to drop a habit that visibly benefits you?
The answer is plain and straightforward — there’s no instant gratification. Our brains are programmed to expect immediate results from everything we do. But not even the best fitness habits or the strictest diets can make us lose weight in the blink of an eye.
We don’t quite understand the effort behind building habits, but we do understand that we want the habit to be there without any effort. Similarly, most of us tend to hide behind the all too familiar “I’m so unmotivated” or “I’ll do it tomorrow,” but tomorrow never comes.
So, to sum up — here are the mistakes we make when we try to build a healthy habit:
- We set unrealistic goals and want to change too many habits at once
- We expect almost instant results
- We give up because we give priority to other things
- We don’t persist but give in to our old habits
What Has an Impact on a Person’s Exercise Habits?
By definition, a habit is an action that’s part of your routine and that you perform without thinking about it. Some good habits are eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, maintaining a work-life balance, and practicing relaxation techniques.
One of the most challenging habits to sustain is regular exercise. Certain factors of influence dictate the success of building a fitness habit, such as our budget, free time, lifestyle, motivation, or physical aptitude.
One of the most influential factors, though, is our personality. It’s crucial to know yourself well to know what to expect. Your character will reflect your exercise habits, so consider this when deciding the type of exercise you want.
First of all, you should know your personality type. Psychologists recognize a five-factor model of personality, including extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.
Each personality type has a high and low end of the continuum. Your position in this continuum can help determine what kind of fitness habit best suits you. Let’s take a look at each personality type and how it relates to building exercise habits:
- Extraversion: If you’re highly extroverted, you’ll enjoy working out in groups and doing team sports, including dancing or group yoga classes. On the other hand, as an introvert, you’ll thrive during home workouts or other individual activities where you dictate the tempo.
- Openness: Being on the high end of the openness spectrum means you’re happy to combine and vary your workout routine to make it more interesting. You can spice things up by exercising at different places. In turn, if you’re at the low end of the spectrum, stick to an established routine and repeat the same exercises regularly.
- Agreeableness: Agreeable people will feel comfortable in cooperative and team activities because they function well within a group. However, if you’re competitive, you’re better off building an exercise habit with a couple of friends that will challenge each other and keep it interesting.
- Conscientiousness: Highly conscientious persons are responsible and disciplined and don’t need anyone to supervise them. They do need a well-organized and designed program, though. If you’re not one of them, you’ll need a bit of monitoring to stay on track.
- Neuroticism: Neurotic personality types should take up relaxing activities and gradually intensify their routine. People on the other side of the spectrum would gain more doing challenging exercises and pushing their limits because it will keep them motivated.
Now that you’re familiar with these personality types, it will be easier to determine what kind of activity will best suit you and keep you motivated to repeat it regularly.
How to build healthy fitness habits?
Including exercise in your daily plans is essential for many reasons — it keeps you fit, healthy, and strong, helps you sleep better, and reduces the risk of many diseases. Let’s see some ways to make exercising a routine you’ll stick to in the long run.
Pick something enjoyable
Before you start building an exercise habit, pick an activity you’ll enjoy doing, so it wouldn’t look like an obligation. This way, you’ll be eager to set aside some time for it and do it every day.
Remember that it doesn’t have to be anything drastic. You can opt for light outdoor activities like bicycle rides and walks in the park, gym membership, or exercising at home with YouTube — whatever works best for you.
Think about convenience
If you have a dynamic lifestyle with many daily obligations, you need an activity that will fit your busy schedule. If you don’t want to waste time commuting or you have a lot to do that day, choose something you can combine with other activities.
Here are some fitness habits to incorporate into your lifestyle:
- Take your dog out for a run or a bicycle ride
- Instead of using the elevator, climb the stairs
- Instead of driving, go on foot to any place within reasonable walking distance
- Do a few squats or reps with hand weights while watching a show
As you can see, these aren’t radical habits but slight changes that can help change your mindset and gradually build to more demanding activities. If you’re not a person who can make time for three workouts a week, start small and whenever you can.
Making exercise a habit means treating it like any other appointment and putting it on your schedule. For example, if you decide to go jogging before dinner, don’t make other plans at that time. Set a reminder on your phone or find a workout buddy to push you to show up.
In addition, your plans should include a realistic routine. Don’t schedule daily workouts if you’re just starting because you might overwork yourself and lose the willpower to get back at it.
Especially if this is your first time exercising, you can’t expect to become a fitness god after a week or two. If you set your expectations too high, you’ll be disappointed and demotivated to keep exercising when you fail.
As said, our personality tends to shape our exercise habits. For instance, don’t take up group activities if you’re an individualist. Likewise, if you lack discipline and cut yourself too much slack, work with a trainer to keep you in check.
Becoming fit, losing weight, building muscle — no matter the fitness goal, it will take a certain amount of time. Don’t rush the process; keep exercising regularly, and don’t worry because the results will come, and the habit will stay if you persist.
There are times when unpredictable changes will happen, and you’ll have to adapt to the new situation. You might want to give up because your life has become too chaotic, but sustaining good fitness habits can help you unwind and release the stress.
If you’re struggling to maintain a previously established schedule, make some changes and incorporate exercise into it to work for you. Change your gym, temporarily reduce the amount of exercise, or take up a new activity that better fits your schedule.
Stop relying on motivation and willpower
People often say they’re unmotivated to exercise, but the truth is motivation comes from action, and so does willpower. If you rely on willpower to start exercising, you’ll take even the minor excuse not to do it.
Sustaining healthy habits is the key to leading a healthy and happy life. Hard work pays off, and if you give yourself enough time to establish a fitness routine, you’ll be able to keep it up effortlessly.