The Habit of Exercise

Post written by Leo Babauta.

In the news recently there was discussion of a new (not yet approved) pill that gets you motivated to exercise. What great news! Most people have a hard time motivating themselves to exercise, and now this incredibly important nectar comes in pill form!

In all seriousness, I prefer to avoid pills if they are unnecessary.

And so, I present to you, the exercise pill without the pill. We’re going to learn how to get into the habit of exercise simply and easily, without a pill.

It only takes a few simple steps:

  1. Pick something you enjoy. Like to take a walk in the park? Or play basketball or soccer? Or do yoga? Or do pushups or kettlebell swings? Awesome. Do that for now. Doing something you enjoy means you’re more likely to be motivated to do it. While you’re doing it, don’t think of it as a chore, but a reward. Enjoy it as you do it.
  2. Pick a trigger. Something in your daily routine already — waking up, drinking coffee, eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, taking a lunch break, getting off of work, arriving home from work, eating dinner, etc. This will be the thing you do right before your exercise.
  3. Do it for 2 minutes a day. Just 2 minutes to start with — so easy you can’t say no. You can do a bit longer if you’re in the mood that day, but only commit to doing 2 minutes each day. After a week, you can increase it to 5 minutes if you like, but if you ever miss a day, go back to 2 minutes. Do the activity right after your trigger — and put a reminder next to where your trigger happens so you don’t forget.
  4. Make it social. If you can run, walk, swim, bike, workout with a friend or your spouse, it will be much more likely to be enjoyable and you’ll be motivated to show up. Having a trainer, joining a class, joining a sports team are other good ways to make it social.
  5. Be accountable. Tell everyone on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or email that you’re going to do 2 minutes every day. Report back to them each day. This is motivational gold.

That’s it. Just do something you enjoy for 2 minutes a day after a trigger, hold yourself accountable for doing those 2 minutes, and if you can, do it with someone else.

That’s about as easy as swallowing a pill every day and then going out to exercise. With all the same benefits.

Forming the habit of exercise will be one of the most important things you ever do. Your health will improve. Your focus and energy will improve. You will feel more attractive and confident, which will spill over into relationships and work. You will be happier.

With benefits like these, why not start with this magic formula today?