Our life is made up of the small actions that we take every day. After doing an action daily for some time, it can become a habit. Of all the habit to create, a regular movement practice is the one that will probably have the largest effect on your whole life. Leaving aside any aesthetic reasons to move, exercise has been linked to better sleep, resilience in mental health, increased productivity, and improved confidence. It is one of the best investments you can make in yourself.
So how do you make regular exercise a habit? Here are the actions that have helped me the most in making movement a part of my life.
1. Find Something You Enjoy Doing.
If you follow any tip, let it be this one. We should always, always move for joy. Until you find a form of exercise that makes your heart sing, keep trying new ones. And know that just because one person enjoys an activity doesn’t mean that everyone will enjoy it.
I learned long ago that I don’t like team sports. The social pressure and anxiety of letting down the team takes away all of the fun for me. I thrive in activities where I am only competing with myself, such as running, weight lifting, and HIIT. And while I do enjoy the community that can be created in a yoga class, as a participant, the solitude of my mat is incredibly appealing. For some people, joining a team and having regular practices helps them tremendously. If that is you, follow that! Learn your own sweet spot: it is different for everyone.
2. Find Accountability.
I love group fitness classes because of their built in accountability. The fact that I’ll lose my class (money) if I don’t attend is a big motivator to make it work. I also find that once I make friends in the class, we begin to check in with each other when we miss a class. “I didn’t feel like it” seems like less of a valid excuse when you have to speak it out loud to another person!
3. Keep track of everything and celebrate!
I’m a big numbers girl. I love adding stickers to my calendar with each workout. Going into my booking app and seeing the number of classes I’ve attended lights me up. Break your goal into manageable pieces and celebrate each step along the way. It takes effort and courage to keep going—recognize your efforts. Big changes come from the things we do every day.
4. Plan ahead—don’t let it be an afterthought.
This one has tripped me up a lot along the way. When I first became a mother, I was very guilty of leaving my self-care for when everything else got done. If this is something that you tell yourself too, well...I’m sorry to break it to you...the to-do list is never going to be done. If you leave your exercise/movement/self-care to “if there’s time…” there won’t be time. It's as simple as that. Plan your movement (and anything else that brings you happiness for that matter) and work the things that you need to do around it. Make your self-care a non-negotiable and get the people in your life on board.
The reasons you should develop a regular movement practice are too many to mention, and I’m sure most people don’t need to be convinced that exercise is good for them. The time that you spend on yourself moving your body will improve every aspect of your life. I promise. So find something that you love doing, invest the time in yourself, and do it with joy.
How are you planning to move in 2020?
Hi, I'm Gillian.
I’m obsessed with helping women live their best lives. Together we'll use yoga and mindfulness to build confidence, reach goals and have some fun!