Image via Comedy Channel.
I’ve lost count of the number of fitness and exercise resolutions I’ve made. There was that time I decided to become a yogi, yet never attended a class. Or that time I was sure a gym membership would force me to exercise. It didn’t.
So what’s the secret to committing to exercise and actually following through with it?
The research published in the journal Health Psychology found that it’s not the action of exercising that is key to maintaining a routine, but rather the “instigation habit” or the cues that signal that it’s time to work out that will actually increase exercise frequency. (Post continues after gallery.)
So, if you hear you alarm go off in the morning, and without question, know that it’s time to throw on your joggers and head out the door for a walk, you’re on the right track. Your exercise routine needs to be as much of a no-brainer as brushing your teeth.
Researchers asked 118 healthy adults to rate their exercise instigation and execution habit strength, then tracked how often they exercised over the course of the following month.
Five per cent of participants reported not exercising, while 50 per cent said they had regularly exercised for longer than 12 months. The results showed that exercise instigation habit strength was the only unique predictor of exercise frequency.
"From a health perspective, we want people to engage in physical activity frequently, and so instigation habit is the type of habit to promote that to happen," said co-researcher Alison Phillips, an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University.
"Regardless of the type of exercise you're going to do on a particular day, if you have an instigation habit, you'll start exercising without having to think a lot about it or consider the pros and cons."
Phillips has a point - half the time it's the immediate period before I exercise that is make or break - as I weigh up whether I have time/can be bothered/ would prefer that extra twenty minutes in bed.