A recent article in the New York Times by Rachel Bachman shows that people who maintain workouts on a regular basis share some common approaches to fitness. Adopting some of these approaches can help you to work out more regularly.
Whether you make a New Year’s resolution or simply try to “get to the gym”, life inevitably gets in the way. But despite our challenges, research shows that 21% of adults do manage to get enough exercise, and these people have some common traits and habits. They are consistent but not rigid. And most importantly, they have open minds about what defines “exercise.”
Here are some key habits of maintaining a steady schedule of workouts:
1.They work out at the same time most days. A study published in April in the British Journal of Health Psychology examined 181 people who exercised an average of 300 minutes a week—twice the federally recommended minimum. Most of those people picked a regular time to work out and stuck with it.
When things become predictable you don’t need to invest much thought. A mental script of behaviors helps you go into autopilot about exercising and fitness.
2. They have a streamlined pre-exercise routine with visual cues. In a study published in 2017 and led by Dr. Kaushal, new gym members were asked to create cues to prompt them to exercise. A cue might be running clothes, shoes and headphones laid out on a dresser. The plan is that when a runner wakes up, he sees the cues, dresses and dashes out the door.
After eight weeks, members of the study’s experimental group were 1.7 times more likely to meet physical-activity guidelines than those in a control group, maintaining their regular workouts.
3. They’re more flexible than infrequent exercisers about how long or vigorously they exercise. Active people are less likely to have all-or-nothing definitions of physical activity, according to a study soon to be published in BMC Public Health. The study looked at 40 women, 11 of whom said they exercised at least three times or two hours a week.
An increasing number of active people are widening their definition of exercise. Many people think exercise has to last at least 30 minutes and make you sweaty and exhausted. Dr. Segar’s ongoing research suggests that frequent exercisers increasingly view things like walking meetings and family bike rides as things that “count” as exercise.
4. They’re more likely to exercise for pleasure than for weight loss. A Journal of Consumer Research study recruited 61 gym-goers at a University. People in one group were told to choose the exercise for their workouts they most enjoyed, while the people in the other group were told to choose the exercise most useful for their health goals. Both groups were instructed to do as many sets of their selected exercise as they could.
People who chose an exercise for enjoyment completed an average of 29 reps, compared with 19 reps for those who chose the exercise they thought would help them with health goals. That was true even though the two groups chose similar exercises with similar amounts of weight.
Maintaining regular workouts is an important part of staying healthy. Based on the advice in this article, keep an open mind about exercise, be flexible, and do something you enjoy. The results will improve your health for years to come. If you have questions about your exercise program, please feel free to speak with one of our providers at Washington Wellness Center. We would be happy to help you create a program that you can stick with year round!