What People Who Exercise Regularly Do Differently

November 16, 2020 - 8 minutes read

Hint: Healthy habits beat willpower every time.

While motivation certainly plays a strong role in driving us to start making healthier choices, it’s becoming more and more evident that habits, not willpower, are the ones that are responsible for keeping us consistent with exercise in the long-term.

Read on for the main things that regular exercisers do to ensure they’re able to make fitness an everyday part of their life.

They start small

When you’re just starting out, committing to regular exercise can feel overwhelming – especially if you’re looking to fit 60 minute workouts into every day of your busy schedule.

The most consistent exercisers agree that starting your journey with more manageable expectations is the best way to form a daily habit.

What you can do:

Start by carving out 10 to 15 minutes a day that you can devote to any type of activity. This could include a short walk around the block, a quick bodyweight workout at home or a round of stairs.

Find something simple that you enjoy doing and stick with it. Once you begin to form a regular habit of movement, you’ll experience how good it feels to be active and will be more likely to make time for a few longer bouts of exercise each week.

They have meaningful goals

Ever notice how busy the gym gets in January and how slow it becomes by March? That’s because people who make New Years resolutions involving exercise often put little thought into why exercise is important to them.

Those who make successful change are often the ones who have done the work to understand not only why they should be exercising, but also why they want to be exercising.

What you can do:

Learn more about the benefits of exercise and ask yourself which of these are truly important to you. When you understand what’s driving you to become more active, you’ll build a stronger connection to the process and are more likely to prioritize your health and stick with it.

They schedule it in

Staying consistent with exercise is first and foremost about showing up for yourself, and what better way to do that than by scheduling in your workouts?

By putting physical activity into their calendar, the most avid exercisers are able to plan their time effectively and set boundaries in other areas of their lives to ensure they’re making time for themselves.

What you can do:

Take time each week to schedule in your workouts, then treat that booking as something that’s just as important as a doctor’s appointment or a professional call for work. Look over your calendar every evening and plan for the day ahead to ensure you don’t miss out on that much-needed me-time.

They focus on progress

Having ways to view and celebrate your little wins along the way will help push you to keep going, even on days when sweating is the last thing on your mind. Successful exercisers have learned to enjoy the act of moving rather than solely focusing on the end results (which can often appear out of reach when you first start out).

What you can do:

Set up regular check-ins with yourself to see how you’re feeling in the areas that matter most to you. Maybe that’s checking in on how your clothes fit or testing out how you feel after going up a flight of stairs.

If you feel yourself progressing from your last check-in, celebrate these little successes! But, more importantly, if you didn’t quite hit where you thought you’d be, don’t give up; use this as an opportunity to reflect on what stood in your way so you can make some changes and start again fresh.

They create accountability

Whatever their initial motivation for getting started, many now-consistent exercisers have set themselves up with some method of external accountability. Even on sluggish days, these people keep going because they know that something or someone is counting on them, which helps to nudge them toward healthy choices.

What you can do:

Set up a means of external drivers that act as a safety net on the days when your motivation is a little low. This could be signing up for a monthly exercise challenge, using an activity tracker to log your daily movement, registering for classes or personal training – anything that will help reward you on your fitness journey and support you in staying consistent.

They get help

It can be challenging to stay on track when you feel overwhelmed by choices. Many people who are now regular exercises didn’t know where to start when they first began. By reaching out for help from a professional, they gained a better understanding of how to exercise properly and felt more autonomous to continue on their own outside of their sessions.

What you can do:

Research fitness studios near you to find the best personal trainer for your goals or get started with an online personal training program you can engage in at home. Working with a professional will help you understand your body better and give you a framework for the best way to keep progressing.

Related: 8 Steps to Help You Find the Perfect Personal Trainer

They set themselves up for success

Looking for a sneaky way to make a workout happen? Lots of consistent exercisers have set up little hacks throughout their day to remove the obstacles that would typically discourage them from getting moving.

Some people change into their workout clothes as soon as they get out of bed in the morning or immediately when they arrive home from work (depending on when they want to exercise). Others plan their route home from work to always pass by the gym. Some sign up for appointment-based workouts to reduce the urge to cancel last-minute.

What you can do:

Identify your most-used excuses for not exercising then devise a plan to outsmart each one. This will remove the typical obstacles that come up during the day and leave you with a clear path toward regular exercise.