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Making physical activity a habit

Making physical activity a habitHave you ever made a new year’s resolution, only to find it broken before school even starts?

More than half of all resolutions fail, with one third not making it past the end of January.

The benefit of making a healthy behaviour a habit is that it becomes automatic – meaning there is less effort, thinking and decision-making needed for the behaviour, leaving more mental energy for other important decisions in your life.

Here’s our top 5 tips for making physical activity a habit:

1. Start with your ‘why’. If you don’t have a reason that aligns with your values in life, chances are any changes you make won’t stick long term. Your ‘why’ should be something that resonates internally, rather than to make someone else happy.

2. Choose something you enjoy. If you are not a ‘gym person’ don’t waste money on a membership you won’t use. Find an activity that makes you feel good – something you loved when you were a child, or a non-traditional form of exercise, like belly dancing or cleaning to upbeat music (kill two birds with one stone!).

3. Focus on the habit first, and the results later. If you are starting from a low base of fitness, strength or skill, it will take some time to build up enough endurance to achieve a workout that gets results. Think about how to slot the new activity into your routine, or ‘piggyback’ it onto something you already do. Like walking an extra block when you go to get your morning coffee from your favourite coffee shop.

4. Eat, sleep, (habit), repeat… Forming a new, positive habit requires repetition over time. When it gets hard, the last thing you want to do is sit back and think about all the reasons why not. Acknowledge there will be times you will need to put your feelings aside and ‘just do it’.

5. Reward yourself for the new behaviour … not the result. Set small goals along the way and when you achieve them, plan a reward (preferably non-food!) to acknowledge your hard work. Also remember that it’s okay to fail sometimes, just get up, brush yourself off, and keep going!

Want to know how to determine if a behaviour (X) is a habit? Some fun questions to think about.

Behaviour X is something…

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