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17th January, 20204 min read

6 tips to make daily exercise a habit

Medical reviewer:Healthily's medical team
Author:Georgina Newman
Last reviewed: 17/01/2020
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

If you’ve tried and failed to stick to a fitness plan in the past, you may feel like you'll never be the type of person who exercises regularly and enjoys it. However, you can - you just need to find an approach that works for you.

Here are 6 ways to do so.

Choose activities to suit your personality

Make a list of the activities you enjoy and the environments you like to be in.

For example, are you…

  • competitive by nature
  • happier when alone
  • a team player
  • comfortable in a gym or fitness studio
  • a fan of outdoor activities
  • an early riser
  • a night owl

Your exercise activities should complement your lifestyle and personality. You can even choose hobby-based activities to keep you interested. If you enjoy doing a particular type of exercise, you’re more likely to make it a habit.

Also, make an effort to change your workouts regularly. You’ll work more muscles if you include different activities in your exercise routine.

Set a time

Decide on a time of day to exercise and stick to it. If you’re an early riser, a morning exercise routine may suit you best. Set your alarm a little earlier than usual and do your chosen activity then.

If you don’t set a time, there’s a chance you may put off exercise until you feel more motivated or less tired. And the more often you do this, the harder it will become to turn your workouts into a habit.

Start small

When you first try to make exercise a daily habit, your body may not be used to regular workouts. Don’t push yourself too hard as this could lead to burnout, injury or quitting your new exercise regime altogether.

Instead, start slowly and give your body a chance to get used to daily exercise. Aim for 15 to 20 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a day and 10-minute bursts of strength exercises twice a week.

Make it fun

You’ll find it hard to make exercise a daily habit if you view it as a chore, so make it fun. If you love music, fill your ears with inspiring tunes to keep you motivated while you workout. If you enjoy walking when it’s quiet outside, take advantage of early mornings.

Track your progress

Once your body is used to daily exercise, increase the intensity and length of your workouts. You should aim for 150 minutes or more of moderate aerobic exercise (walking or cycling) or 75 minutes or more of intense aerobic exercise (football or running) every week.

If you’ve taken up walking, track your daily steps to see how your fitness progresses over time. The health benefits of regular exercise may extend to other areas of your life.

Perhaps you struggled with stress or poor sleep before starting your new exercise routine? If so, why not track your stress levels or sleep to identify any change?

Reward your efforts

Exercise takes effort, so reward that effort. If your gym shoes aren’t up to the task, invest in a better pair. Do what you need to do to make your workouts easier and more efficient, then give yourself a treat for sticking to an exercise routine.

When life gets in the way

Life will sometimes get in the way of your daily exercise routine. Illness, family holidays and work commitments all have the power to upset your workout plans. But don’t give up or give yourself a hard time. Just get back to working out as soon as you can.

And if you’re worried that your busy life will get in the way of daily exercise, the next article in this series will show you how to exercise even if you’re busy.

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Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.