According to the psychology of habit formation, relying on willpower alone is not a good strategy for long-term consistency. So, let's take a look at a few psychological tactics that may help you make fitness a habit (marksdailyapple).
Typically, our routine activities create a chain, helping us complete our daily activities one after the other. For instance, you brush your teeth after you wake up, and you eat lunch when you see that the clock says it's lunch time.
So, a great way to stay consistent with your fitness routine is to link exercise to an activity that you already do every day. With a cue to tell you that you should exercise, you may find it easier to stick to your new habit.
Pre-commitment refers to the factors that lead you to engage in an activity, such as exercise. For instance, if you go to the gym with a partner, it's very unlikely that you'll bail out on that activity. Your friend will come, take you to the gym, and motivate you to exercise, even if you don't feel like doing it.
Rewards are a classic motivator to help people adopt new habits. However, when it comes to making fitness a habit, rewards like a delicious dessert or a nice nap may not work well. According to behaviorism, this type of reward may become problematic. Decadent foods and lengthy naps will counteract your fitness goals and may even minimize your motivation to exercise. Plus, these rewards won't be granted right after a workout, so the impact isn't ideal.
For a reward to be effective, it needs to benefit your overall lifestyle, be realistic to attain regularly (i.e. affordable), and, preferably, be accessible right after your workout (developinggoodhabits).
There should be no hurdles between you and the gym. To illustrate this point, think about what happens if you keep a bag of chips next to you all the time. Generally, you can't resist eating it. However, if you keep it away from you, (in the kitchen, for instance), you'll find it easier to resist the urge to eat it.
With fitness, you need to do just the opposite. In other words, you need to reduce the barriers between you and the gym so that working out is convenient. You can join a gym that's close to where you live and adopt a scheduled program so that you always know what to expect. By getting rid of barriers between you and the gym, you eliminate the excuses that you can make to skip a workout.
We all know the importance of goal setting, but most of us don't set goals in an effective manner. Ideally, your goal should be important to you personally, realistic, and specific. For instance, if you set a goal like "building muscle" or "shedding weight", it's not focused and specific enough. You have to define your goal to have a clear vision of what you need to do. If you have the goal to lose weight, define the number of pounds you want to lose and how you're going to shed the weight. This specificity will help you work toward the goal on a consistent basis.
It's not a good idea to compare yourself to your fellow gym-goers, especially those who are more advanced than you. This approach will reduce your confidence level and make you more prone to quitting. Instead, you should encourage yourself to be better than you were the day before. Compete with yourself, not the people around you. This will help raise your confidence so that you can keep going (USNews).
In short, by following these 6 tips, you can make fitness a habit that you stick to in the long term.