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How to Make Physical Fitness a Lifelong Habit

Posted by Brooke Grant
How to Make Physical Fitness a Lifelong Habit

We all know people (and maybe we are those people) who make a fitness plan every summer, every New Year, or every birthday. But, statistically, 90% of those people do not maintain their fitness plan for longer than 3 months. If the goal is to look a little bit better on the beach for spring vacation, that might be adequate; but if the goal is to improve your health and fitness for years to come, that is clearly not a sustainable approach.

Simply put, daily exercise is the single best thing you can do for your body. It has positive impacts on your muscles, bones, and organs, as well as boosting your appearance, mood, and even mental health and cognition. In fact, many of the problems we associate with old age: weakness, loss of balance, and memory loss, aren't due to age at all. They are due to a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise.

Of course, it can be difficult to make a fitness plan and stick with it; but here are some simple ways to make physical fitness part of your daily life:

  • Adopt a physical activity you love. If you can't think of something you love, take classes until you find it; there are healthy physical activities for people of every age and fitness level. Activities that combine a range of physical movement with enjoyable social interactions and learning opportunities are the easiest to stick with, and make the greatest impact on your overall health. Some good examples are:
    • Dancing: whether it's ballroom, hip-hop, or line dancing, dancing to music you love with people you like is enjoyable and doesn't feel like a workout.
    • Games: not just team sports like a casual game of basketball, but a game of tennis or pickleball, golf or disc golf, are all great ways to build friendships while getting fit. Furthermore, games provide an extra mental challenge that gives the brain a boost.
    • Explore: getting outdoors, whether it's for a walk around the block, a hike, a bike ride, or skiing are all great activities, and better for you in real life than when done on treadmills or stationary bikes in a gym. Get curious about your surroundings and get to know them.
  • Choose the right location for your gym. The closer your gym is to home (if you leave from home to exercise) or to work (if you leave from work) the greater the likelihood that you will go on a regular basis. Choosing a gym with a commute may sabotage days when your energy is low.
  • Track your fitness. Using a fitness tracker not only helps you recognize your progress and improve your results, but the ability to participate in teams, compete with friends, and share results is a powerful motivator to stick with your plan.
  • Make an appointment. Rather than planning on going to the gym at some point in a day, put it in your calendar like any other scheduled activity. If you plan on going to the gym every day before or after work, and build the time into your plan and commute, you are more likely to make a lasting habit of it.
  • Use an app. Like everything else, there's an app for that. Apps like Pact, HealthyWage, and Wellcoin help you define goals, track your progress, and even earn rewards for your progress. If the idea of putting a little cash into the game appeals to you, or provides extra incentive, look up the app that's right for you.
  • Choose your entertainment. As we look for healthy ways to motivate and reward ourselves, some people have found a clever solution. These people found page-turning audio books and only allowed themselves to listen while they worked out. The results? Study participants went to the gym 51% more frequently. Try bundling your favorite audiobook, podcast, or even TV show with your workout routine and see if it works for you.
Making fitness part of your everyday routine not only promotes life-long health, but it breaks the mentally damaging cycle between Resolution and Disappointment. Follow these tips to take better care of your whole body, mind, and spirit.


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