Do you ever feel like you’ve been on top of your fitness game? You’ve been going to the gym almost every day for weeks now. You’re on fire when all of a sudden BAM! Life gets in the way for one day. Just one. Lousy. Day.
And your whole routine is thrown off! You’ve been so motivated to work out lately, but now after one day of skipping the gym, all motivation is gone. It seems that all hope is lost. The things that get in the way of life really seem to get in the way of hitting the weights now.
And now, it can take up to a few weeks to get back on the horse again. I know I’ve experienced this many times. It’s a real tragedy.
Look, we all know that exercise is great for us. We all know that we should make fitness a habit. But for some reason, it can be hard to stick to it.
Today we’re going to talk about the holistic benefits of a fitness habit, how habits are formed, and finally 7 tips to finally make fitness a habit so you never miss a workout again.
Why Should You Make Fitness a Habit?
Well, going back to the above example, it can be hard to get to the gym when you don’t have the motivation. The reality is that it’s much easier to mellow out or rest. Maybe even to watch some TV. After all, you’re feeling tired. You need rest. You’ve earned rest.
Or if you’re anything like me, it’s hard to make fitness a habit because your to-do list is just way too long. I would be so much more productive if I skipped my workout today to get some actual work done…
Which, I now know, is not true — working out increases energy levels and productivity. This allows me to now work longer without getting fatigued AND be more focused while working. Which is why we need to make fitness a daily habit in the first place!
This increased focus and energy is just one of many holistic benefits we get when we make fitness a habit.
Exercise is a holistic activity because it benefits every aspect of your life — not just your weight loss or muscle gain goals.
A few more holistic benefits of fitness include:
- Better sleep
- Enhanced mood
- Greater performance
- Mental wellness
- Disease prevention
Experiencing these benefits across the board translates into better work performance, financial health, relationships, and overall quality of life.
And when you know you’re exercising daily, you can be sure that you’re maximizing every single one of these benefits and areas of your life.
How Does Habit Formation Work?
So before we dive into specifically making fitness a bit, let’s take a quick look at how habits form in the first place.
In order to figure this out, the fundamental question should be asked: What is a habit?
A habit is a term referring to an automatic behavior. Habits are stored in a primitive area of the brain called the basal ganglia.
The reason habits form is so the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with conscious thought, can focus on other things and still perform the task at hand. In other words, habits exist so the task or behavior can be done on autopilot.
So how do habits form in the first place? It all comes down to something called the habit loop, which looks something like this:
Cue → Routine → Reward
Basically, you observe a cue that makes you want or crave a certain reward. In order to receive that reward, you must perform the specific routine (the habit itself) to get it.
Think smoking: A smoker may feel stressed (cue), so they puff a cigarette (routine) which, in turn, makes them feel relaxed (reward).
The smoker doesn't actually crave the cigarette. Whether they know it or not, they actually crave the reward that the cue brought to mind - which triggers them to perform the routine (smoke the cigarette).
So How Can We Use the Habit Loop to Make Fitness a Habit?
Because we know that forming habits (and keeping them) comes down to the habit loop, we can ask ourselves fundamental questions that will help us stick to our desired exercise routine:
What reward are you seeking?
- Are you trying to lose fat?
- Maybe gain some muscle?
- More energy and less fatigue throughout the day?
- Higher quality sleep?
Figure out the exact reward you want from your fitness habit. Use that as motivation to keep your habit up. Track your progress so you can notice the rewards more clearly.
Note: Certain benefits such as more energy, better cognition, or higher quality sleep are more immediate and may be more effective rewards for your habit loop. Altering your body composition is a more long-term process and reward, but may still be motivating. That being said, consider prioritizing one of the above benefits over body composition as your reward for more immediate and measurable motivation.
Do you have your reward now? Great! Now the next step is vital.
What could you use as a cue to exercise?
- Waking up?
- Seeing your running shoes next to your bed?
- After drinking your morning cup of coffee or eating breakfast?
- Driving home from work?
Figure out when you want to exercise (to make it a habit, do it at the same time daily) and find the cue that will get you to perform the routine.
How can you make the routine simple and easy to stick to?
If you commit to working out for two hours every day, consisting of an hour of powerlifting followed by one hour of sprints, you may have a hard time sticking to your routine.
Discover what’s easiest for you to commit to. And as you perform your routine and experience the rewards, you’ll get hooked soon enough and will be more likely to up your regimen.
7 Tips to Hardwire Your Fitness Habit For Good
1. Make fitness a priority.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be #1 priority, but it should be in your top 3 because its benefits extend to all areas of your life and work.
2. Recognize what your #1 goal is and where fitness fits into the equation. This will motivate you to exercise so that you can better achieve this goal.
For example, my #1 goal is to run Home Gym Heroes. Fitness falls into this equation because working out daily boosts my energy, focus, and sleep quality. This allows me to think and operate at my highest level. Which, in turn, allows me to generate better ideas, write better content, and ultimately serve you better.
3. Understand that motivation and inspiration follows action — not the other way around.
By continuing to pursue your fitness goals and routines, even when you don’t feel like it, you’ll become more motivated. You’ll feel good about what you did. You’ll want more. You’ll get some momentum. Keep that momentum once you have it.
4. Understand what type of exercise you enjoy doing.
This goes back to creating the easiest routine for you to follow.
Do you hate running? Then don’t tell yourself you’ll run every day!
5. As stated earlier, exercise at the same time every day.
Make sure your routine follows your specific cue — that way, its really wired into your brain that you need to workout once you see that cue.
For example, I workout in the morning immediately after journaling in my notebook. Once I’m finished writing, I know that it’s time to exercise. There’s no forgetting about it — it’s hardwired.
6. Try not skip a day to really wire the habit into your brain.
You don’t necessarily have to workout hard every single day. Try this: Whenever you would normally have an off day, just do some yoga, stretching, walking, light jogging, or light lifting at home. Which brings us to our last point…
7. Exercise at home!
While you don’t necessarily have to have a full home gym, it’s always beneficial to have some sort of workout equipment for home use. So days when you don’t go to the gym, you can still get a solid workout in!
Even if you don’t have any equipment at home, you can still find some high-intensity bodyweight exercises you enjoy that you can do on your off days to really drill your new fitness habit into your brain.
And there you have it!
You’ve learned why it’s important to make fitness a habit, how such a habit can be formed, and 7 tips to help you wire into your brain for good.
If you enjoyed this article, we’d appreciate it if you help us out by sharing it on social media. Help others turn fitness into a habit and excel in all areas of their life!
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If you’re considering a home gym, you should definitely also read up on The Pros and Cons of a Home Gym.
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Disclaimer: Although Home Gym Heroes, LLC does believe that anyone and everyone can benefit from working out at home, we do recognize and appreciate that a home gym isn’t for everyone. We are here to help people make an educated decision on the matter. That being said, we do strongly believe in the benefits of home gyms for certain people and are here to help them build it if they so wish.