When you think about a hobby that you enjoy what feelings come to mind? Happiness, Excitement, Contentment? Well, if you make fitness your hobby, you can have these same types of emotions every time you work out! So, how do you make the transition from dreading your exercise time to looking forward to it the same way you do your other hobbies?
The problem with trying to make exercise a habit and it’s something that we’ve all faced, is that you usually try to exercise 3 or 4 times a week … and that makes creating a new exercise habit difficult.
The reason is that the more consistent an action is, the more likely it is to be a habit.
Here are some tips:
- Pay attention to how good being physically active feels. It gives you a break from the stresses you have at work and home, plus it releases endorphins that are a natural antidepressant, leaving you with a smile on your face and a positive attitude.
- Get the right equipment. Just as you wouldn’t enjoy gardening as much if you didn’t have the proper equipment (like a hoe and gloves), the same is true for getting fit. Either purchase your own equipment or join a gym that already has it and you’ll be one step closer to making this hobby a happily regular part of your life.
- Set aside time for it. Pencil in your workout sessions the same way you would a class on woodworking or knitting. Even if you’re going solo, setting aside the time to engage in exercise will help you make it a priority instead of something you’ll do only if you get time (which hardly ever happens).
- Share your passion with others. When you are around people who have a zest for health and fitness, you will find that it ignites your passion as well. You can find likeminded enthusiasts in classes at gyms and recreational centers, or even online. Let their motivation keep you inspired to hit new physical levels.
- Don’t skip a day. It’s easy to say, “No problem, I’ve been doing it for five days … I’ll just skip today!” But that will make your habit formation harder. Consistency is key, so try not to skip a single day. If you do, don’t beat yourself up, don’t judge, don’t feel bad — everyone messes up sometimes, and habit formation is a skill that requires practice. Just start your 30-day challenge over again and try to identify the obstacle that led to your skipping a day and prepare for it this time.
- Do a variety of activities you enjoy. And remember, there's no rule that says you have to go to a gym or buy equipment. "We've shifted our perceptions from regimented exercise to physical activity. Having a variety of activities weightlifting, walking, running, tennis, cycling, aerobics classes -- will ensure that you can do something regardless of the weather or time of day.
- Make exercise a priority. "It has to be a non-negotiable”. There's an advantage to making exercise non-negotiable. Friends and family members learn that it's part of your identity, and give up saying things like, "Why don't you take it easy today?"
- Exercise first thing in the morning.
Experts agree that a morning schedule is best. "If you go to a gym, it should be located between your home and work". Exercise, take a shower, and you're energized for the day.
- Exercise on your way home from work.
The next best thing to exercising first thing in the morning is to do it on your way home from work. There aren't a lot of people who are so motivated that after they go home and change clothes will go back out again and exercise.
- Exercise even when you're "too tired."
Chances are, you'll feel better after exercising. "It energizes us". "You breathe deeply, and your body makes better use of the oxygen exchange. You'll get an exercise-induced euphoria during the activity and for some time after."
Write down the things that are important to you. It could be how much time you exercise each day, how many steps you walked, how far you ran or cycled, what you weighed, etc.
Some people make a game of it. You may have heard of runners calculating the miles it would take to run from their homes to Boston (home of the famous marathon), figuring how far they run in an average week and setting a target date for "arriving" in Boston.
- Be aware of all the indicators of progress.
It's great when your clothes fit better, and you can lift heavier weights or work out longer without getting exhausted. But there is a slew of other progress indicators, such as:
- Getting a good night's sleep.
- Thinking more clearly.
- Having more energy.
- Realizing your muscles aren't screaming after you has helped friend move furniture.
- Seeing your resting heart rate drop over time.
- Hearing your doctor congratulate you on improved cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, triglycerides, and blood sugars.
- Walk -- with a pedometer (or a dog)."If you enjoy walking and haven't exercised for a while, 10 minutes three times a day will give you 30 minutes". Use a pedometer and work up to at least 10,000 steps a day. "Nobody starts out with 10,000 steps". Find out what your daily average is, and, the next week, strive to walk 300 extra steps each day. Increase your steps each week.
Are you telling yourself that you don't deserve a reward for something you should be doing anyway -- or that once you can zip your jeans without lying on the bed, that will be reward enough? Well, honestly, how inspiring is that?
Experts say that making behavior changes is hard, and rewards motivate. So, decide on a goal and a reward, and work toward it. You might buy yourself a video you've wanted after you stick to your fitness plan for one month or buy new walking shoes when you achieve 5,000 steps a day. Do whatever works for you.
There are many benefits to having a hobby (such as stress relief and greater levels of happiness) and they are magnified when that hobby is fitness. Make fitness your hobby and you will not be disappointed!