Modern day life is hectic! We are constantly being pulled from pillar to post between family, friends and work commitments. And don’t forget to throw in constant distractions of WhatApp, text messaging, etc.!
We all know that taking exercise is really good for both our physical and mental health. But with such a hectic life, when do we get the time to exercise?
This is the million-dollar question!
The answer is simple. We need to find a way to make exercise part of our daily ritual. Exercise needs to become a daily “habit”.
In Atomic Habits (a book I would strongly recommend), the author James Clear, says that habits “are not a finished line to be crossed, they are a lifestyle to live.” In other words, for exercise to become a habit we need to build it into our lifestyle.
James recommends that if you want to make exercise a daily habit, apply these four rules:
1. Make it obvious.
2. Make it attractive.
3. Make it easy.
4. Make it satisfying.
So here I am pontificating about the benefits of exercise, so do I practice what I preach? The answer is I do. But, it has not always been that way. I played a lot of sport in my younger days but like a lot of people, I stopped when I started my own business, had a family, the usual….!
And although I did some exercise during the week, like going for a jog, it was not part of my daily routine. So, what changed? The answer is that I started to read a lot more about how exercise can really help you make better decisions in life. For example, books like Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness made me realise that if I really wanted to up my game, I need to build exercise into my daily routine.
So here are my five tips to building exercise into your daily routine:
1. Find an “Accountability Partner”
An Accountability Partner is someone that can hold you accountable for missing your exercise! It can be a family member, a friend or colleague but someone that holds you accountable for exercising on a regular or daily basis.
I was lucky enough to know Mark McCabe who owns and runs Sports Med Ireland on Kildare Street in Dublin . Mark is one of the best strength and conditioning experts in Ireland. Mark gives me a weekly schedule of exercise, which I record and upload each week.
2. Make it enjoyable
Find an exercise that you enjoy. Exercise should be fun and not a chore. If you like to go for a run, then run. If cycling is your thing, that is great, equally if walking works for you, that is great also. Just choose one or multiple forms of exercise that you like to do. Listen to music or a podcast when exercising. Personally, I love listening to audio books when I go for a jog.
3. Make it easy
For exercise to work, it needs to be easy for you to do. It needs to be built into your daily routine. If it is hard and requires a lot of work, you won’t do it! Personally, I exercise first thing in the morning. The key to getting up early in the morning is swinging your feet out of bed and putting them on the ground. Once you do that, you are up.
One great tip I got and I would recommend you to anybody, is to put your exercise clothes out the night before. If all you have to do in the morning when you wake up, is swing your legs out of bed and not have to think about what to wear, it makes exercise so much easier to do.
4. Just get going
You don’t have to get it right straight away, just get it going. Some people start off with these massive plans to run 10KM every day and after a week or two they are simply burnt out and stop. Start off slowly. Start with 5-10 minutes of exercise each day and gradually build it up.
5. Reward yourself
The final piece in the jigsaw is making exercise satisfying and rewarding. Ideally set yourself a weekly or monthly goal but give yourself a reward at the end of the week for doing all the exercise sessions you set out to do. This is very important. The reward can be anything from going out to dinner, a few pints, watching a movie, buying clothes, etc. but I will leave that piece up to you.
Hopefully one or more of my tips might inspire you to get more exercise. If you exercise more, it will have a massive positive influence on your life straight away.
Yours in sport,