10 Ways to Make Exercise a Habit

Your best bet for health is to start a lifelong fitness habit.  But you may find yourself breaking that habit unless you find ways to keep it fun, fresh, and energizing.  So, what gets in the way of lifelong fitness?  Most people cite boredom, lack of time, and no motivation as reasons why they stop working out.  Here, we've got ten great tips for making exercise a habit you'll never want to break.

Make it fun. You're more likely to exercise if it's enjoyable.  Choose sports you love or want to learn.  Work out with friends.  Blast your favorite music.

Put your health first. Take yourself off the bottom of your to-do list and give your health the #1 position it deserves.  Making exercise a habit means you'll be around longer for all the people who depend on you.

Save the date. Make a daily appointment with yourself for fitness. Treating exercise like you would a business meeting, dinner date, or medical appointment will help you take it seriously.

Mix it up. Nobody wants to do the same old thing every day.  Cross train or engage in multiple sports or exercises to keep your mind and body interested.

Keep a diary. Write down what you did, or didn't do for fitness each day, and review it weekly.  If you find you're skipping certain days or taking shortcuts, evaluate what might be standing in your way. Were you too busy, tired, or bored? Consider more convenient times of day or locations for exercise.

Pick the right time. Most people who successfully make exercise a habit work out out either first thing in the morning or on their way home from work before other commitments and responsibilities take over their schedule.

Get involved. Sign up for a 5K, tennis tournament, volleyball competition, or commit to some other sports event.  You're more likely to work out regularly when you know you'll have to perform at your best (and in front of other people) in the future. 

Hire a task master. Hiring a personal trainer is a sure-fire way to make exercise a habit.  Not only will your trainer make sure you show up and do the right thing, but the money you're spending will be an extra motivator. 

Get a buddy. Find a workout partner who shares your fitness goals and interests-and hold each other accountable.  It's harder to break the exercise habit if you know someone else is depending on you.

Positive reinforcement. Reward yourself for making exercise a habit.  Made it to the gym every day for a week?  Treat yourself to a movie.  Finally completed 20 laps in the pool without stopping?  Get a pedicure.