Getting in the exercise habit

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The cliché about gyms being full in January and empty again by March shows how hard it is to stick to a new fitness regime and make exercise a habit.

Whatever time of year you decide to make a change, you can start off full of good intentions but soon find you’ve slipped back into old habits.

The key to success is to replace those old habits with healthy new ones, and to stick with them long enough for them to become routine.

Research suggests it might take around two months, so here are some tips which will help in those early days:

Set a timetable

Plan for your chosen activities, e.g. working out at lunchtime on Monday, running on Wednesday evening.

Find a fitness buddy

And make plans with them. The shared commitment will help you stay on track, particularly on days when one of you is wavering.

Tell friends and family

Make your new exercise plans public by telling your friends and family. You’ll get their encouragement and you’ll be more accountable.

Track your progress

Whether it’s the time it takes you to run 5km, the distance you ride your bike or the weights you’re using, seeing your improvement will motivate you to keep at it.

Be prepared

Get your kit ready the night before you have a workout scheduled, keep your bike prepped and your helmet and shoes ready to go.

Key sources and further reading

UCL: How long does it take to form a habit?

BeeZee Bodies: The habit before the habit

17 March, 2023