How to REALLY Create an Exercise Habit

You know from my story in the previous post that I got healthy changing one or two things at a time and taking some time to get used to the changes before moving onto another.

In the past, I’d try to do aerobics or strength training three times a week. I’d get off track by using that extra day more than once. You know what I’m talking about: Workout M/W/F or T/R/S and there’s an extra day whether it’s Saturday/Sunday or Sunday/Monday and I’d say, on Thursday, “I’ll just take today as my extra day.” I’d say it again on the following Tuesday and before long I had no routine at all.

How did I solve that? Well, I tried being strict with myself, but without accountability it didn’t work. What did work was working out every day … No off day to conveniently reschedule as the mood struck. Guess what? It worked! I got into a really nice routine and now the only days I don’t work out are the ones that have scheduling issues. That works out to about once every 1-2 weeks.

I discovered a new approach to staying committed to walking every day by not:

  • Making a big deal out of it. No fancy workout clothes or creating an Excel spreadsheet to track progress.
  • Insisting on setting any big distance goals or speeds every day
Health & Nutrition Community Neighborhood Wellness Stress Relief

Waiting for the day the trees are this lush again. This is my street!

The plan that I credit for creating my daily habit, and that of several clients and students, was to set the goal of walking out 5 minutes and back 5 minutes (or just walk around the block). My block is .6 miles and that’s all I HAVE to do.

Why does this work? It builds the habit of making time to do some intentional exercise every day. For some of you 10 minutes of walking might seem like a stretch. That’s okay. Set the goal smaller. Walk to the end of the block and back. Just set a goal that feels small so that you do it daily.

Push yourself occasionally … Let it evolve into 7 minutes out and back, 10 minutes out and back. But always remember, especially on the days you just don’t feel like doing it, that you only have to walk around the block.

If 10 minutes seems to short, don’t worry about it … It’s the minimum. The importance of the small goal is to create the daily habit. Where you take it when you get outside is up to you, but you always only have to walk 10 minutes. It’s tough to argue with that!

I started doing this the summer Kansas City experienced a record number of days in the 100’s. I ended up walked about 3 miles at 6AM and another 2 at 9PM on a lot of days. Every day I told myself I only had to walk around the block.

Remember, nothing fancy. No big plans. Keep it simple! Walk out. Walk back. Daily. 10 minutes. Where you take it from there is up to you. The end goal is to build the habit of moving daily.

Building the habit teaches you that you can. That’s huge.

Here’s to the journey!
NancyO, The Practical Health Coach



7 thoughts on “How to REALLY Create an Exercise Habit

  1. Pingback: Challenge #1: I Challenge You to … | HealthWorksKC

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