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6 ways to make exercise automatic

May 12, 2010

Trust me on this–once you get into the “exercise groove,” you’ll get to a place where you won’t feel good NOT exercising.

That goes for all of you out there who abhored gym class way back when. I don’t care if you never played a team sport–you, too, can come to love your time in the gym (or wherever it is you like to exercise).

It helps if you believe you can get into the exercise groove. It helps, but it’s not necessary. More important is action. Belief will follow.

My best advice–make exercise automatic.

Yes, I am aware that David Bach, author of Automatic Millionaire, uses this concept for building wealth. I happen to think it works VERY well for building health, as well.

How to do it?

  1. Pay yourself first.  Another David Bach concept–but ENERGY, not money, is your currency. And before you spend all or most of your energy elsewhere, you’re going to invest it in yourself–your health and wellbeing–first! That means…
  2. Make exercise a priority. If at all possible, exercise first thing in the day–or as early as you can manage. For years I got up at 4 AM to get to the gym. I was a single mom with two kids. I had to get them to two schools, and myself to work by 8:30 AM. If I’d postponed working out till after the work day, I’d never have gotten to the gym!
  3. Get rid of potential stumbling blocks.  A coffeepot with a self-timer saved me for years! That aroma of freshly brewed coffee helped me out of bed every day. Other ways to make it easier on yourself: Sunday night, make sure you have enough clean exercise clothes and socks for the week. Lay them out every night, so you have less shuffling around to do in the morning. Have your water bottle chilled and your breakfast food ready so when you get home, you’re not frazzled. (I’d soak oatmeal overnight on top of the stove. I heated it while I was brushing my teeth before going to the gym–it was cooked and still warm when I got home.) Know what you’re going to do in the gym. For example, it might be shoulders and triceps day, upper body day or interval cardio day.
  4. Commit (or recommit) to your health. Faced with other issues–like getting laid off, caring for an aging parent or coping with stressful family matters–it can be tempting to skip exercise. Don’t! By improving your endurance, focus, energy and self-esteem, exercise equips you to deal with the other stresses in your life. If YOU are not healthy, how can you take care of everything else that needs your attention?  
  5. Keep it interesting.  I’ll never stop looking for new exercises, workout plans and tips. (And I guess guys might laugh when I reach for FLEX Magazine at the bookstore.) It keeps me motivated! Check out all the fitness and muscle magazines and the web sites and blogs. I learn things all the time. Change your workouts regularly–don’t let them get stale!
  6. Find a partner. If you have a friend or loved one who’s motivated, team up! Just try to avoid partnering with someone who’s going to bail on you all the time! The more people who “check in” on you, the better. Even a sports-oriented niece or nephew who regularly asks about your exercise program can be motivating. In the same vein, sign up for a class or for personal training. You may be less inclined to skip exercise when you’ve paid for it, or when you know others are waiting for you!

Give it time. Just get in motion and keep it going!


Flickr photo, Steve Pepple

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