9 Tips to Make Exercise a Habit

The top tips for forming a habit that sticks!

By: Lexy Parsons

You want to exercise, but your schedule is busy, and you just don’t know where to start. And every time you muster up the motivation to move, it seems like something is standing in your way between making it a regular part of your routine versus a one-time occurrence. If this sounds like you, and you’re wondering how to make exercise a habit, we’re here to help with nine easy-to-implement tips!

The Science on Habit Making 

According to research, long-term habits are ones you do on a weekly, routine basis, implementing them at consistent times throughout the day. While it’s common knowledge that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, science suggests it can be anywhere from 18-254 days. Like most things, it’s not so black and white! It depends on your goals, support system, lifestyle habits, motivation, and overall health, among other factors. The key to making a habit stick is continuously repeating the desired habit or behavior. The more you repeat the behavior, the more likely it is to become a habit!

Ahead, we’re sharing our top tips on how to make exercise a habit (one that sticks)!

9 Simple Tips to Make Exercise a Habit 

#1 Set Out Your Clothes 

One of the best ways to make exercise a habit is to plan ahead and eliminate any factors that stand between you and your workout. Setting out your workout clothes the night before makes it easy for you to throw on your outfit and hit the gym — before you have time to make excuses or get distracted! If you make this a mindful part of your morning routine, it will soon become habit! 

Not a morning person? Plan ahead by packing your workout clothes in your work bag so that you’re ready to move whenever the opportunity arises in your day.

#2 Plan Your Workout 

Draft up a rough workout schedule for the week, so you have a plan in place! Maybe you do an arm toning workout on Monday, a FitOn HIIT sesh on Wednesday, get a brisk walk in on Thursday, and finish out the week with yoga or Pilates. Having a plan in place will help you stay motivated and committed to your goals and your workout routine. Repeating this at the beginning (or end) of every week is a great way to make exercise a habit.

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide To Starting A Home Fitness Routine  

#3 Pencil It In 

Now that you have a schedule in place commit to your schedule! Add it to your calendar as if it were a meeting — you can even think of it as a meeting with yourself. And just like any other meeting, if you continuously blow it off, your goals will be that much harder to reach. So, schedule in a FitOn workout, block off your lunch break, and show up prepared and ready to go!  

#4 Find a Workout Buddy

Even the most motivated people go through periods where they find themselves unmotivated. We’re human, it’s bound to happen! One way to steer clear of this workout rut? Enlist a workout buddy! It can be easy to skip your workout or make excuses if you’re purely relying on self-motivation to keep you accountable. But, according to research, if you have someone on the other end depending on you, you’re more likely to commit to a routine and follow through! Plus, working out with a buddy is more fun. A little friendly competition, anyone?  

Want to invite your friends and family to get in on the fun? Inviting friends to FitOn is easy! By going to the friends tab in the app, you can select friends from your contacts and send them an invite.

#5 Take Your Work Calls On The Go

Ever heard of walking meetings? If work allows, plan your calls and meetings on the go. Whether it’s a virtual call or in-person lunch, hitting the pavement and walking while talking is a great way to get some movement in (while effectively managing your time and busy schedule). Plus, exercise has been shown to increase productivity and boost creativity! A win-win.

#6 Find A Workout That Makes You Feel Good 

HIIT workouts may be trendy, and your BFF might get the toned, lean arms you’ve always wanted from her Megaformer Pilates class, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best workouts for you. If you love them, amazing! But the important thing is finding a workout that makes YOU feel good and is best for YOUR body! Sticking to a workout routine is all about finding a workout that makes you feel good both inside and out.

Need some help getting started? Hit play on the FitOn app and head to our workout library. With everything from Pilates to HIIT to strength training and yoga, you’ll be sure to find something that works for you and your needs!

#7 Set Small, Attainable Goals

Think about how good you feel when you check off your to-do list or crush your goals. It feels pretty motivating, right? Well, that’s the basis behind this hack for how to make exercise a habit! As they say, slow and steady wins the race. Rather than setting unrealistic goals and getting down on yourself for not hitting the mark, set yourself up for success by starting small. Say goodbye to that “go big or go home” mentality, and invite in a healthier mindset with small, actionable steps. 

Instead of making your goal workout seven days a week, start with a goal of three days, maybe four! And, these workouts don’t have to be hour-long gym sessions or boutique fitness classes, either. You can get all the benefits with a 15-minute workout in your kitchen. If you’re still feeling motivated to move on those other four days, does that mean you can’t? Of course not! But, think of it as a bonus! You hit all your exercise goals, plus even more! Sometimes these mental tricks help us form a habit by reinforcing positive behavior and a positive mindset. Plus, with these small goals, you’ll be laying a solid, sustainable foundation for those larger long-term goals you want to nail. 

RELATED: How to Set Fitness Goals That Stick

#8 Commit to Just 5 Minutes 

Speaking of small goals, commit to a daily 5-10 minute workout. Even on the busiest of days, we all can squeeze in a quick five minutes of movement! Maybe you do a 5-minute ab burner, complete 50 burpees with 5 spurts of 10 burpees spread out throughout the day, or lace up your sneakers for a mile walk or jog with your pup. After a while, you’ll crush these 5 to 10 minutes without even thinking — you may even notice yourself racking on the minutes! 

#9 Plan Recovery Days Into Your Schedule

You’re working your body hard in the gym, you’re eating the right foods, and you’re even making a conscious effort to reduce the stress in your life. But part of seeing the results you are working so hard for includes prioritizing recovery days too! Without rest, your body won’t have the proper time to recover, and it could actually plateau and hinder your results. Plus, you run the risk of burnout. So, just as you look forward to your workouts, start looking forward to your recovery days, too!

RELATED: What is Overtraining Syndrome + Why it May Stall Results 

The Takeaway 

Think outside the box and find creative ways to get moving! Remember: movement isn’t limited to planned workouts or fitness exercises. Think: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to get a coffee versus driving, going on a hike or bike ride, and even taking your dog for a longer than usual walk. All movement is beneficial movement! And the more you move, the better you’ll feel. The better you feel, the more motivated you’ll be to keep moving! See the cycle happening here? That’s how healthy habits are formed.