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Exercise

6 Reasons to Get Fit & Turn Exercise Into a Permanent Habit

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People not fit today usually have many reasons why they can’t start a fitness program – most of which (if not all) are unfounded. One common reason used is not enough time. The truth is almost everyone can find 30 minutes a day to exercise if they really want to start working on getting fitter.

But instead of focusing on reasons people use why they can’t get fit, let’s look at six of the more important reasons to workout, starting today:

1) Tomorrow may be too late

If overweight and out of shape, you are at an increased risk of getting Type II diabetes, a heart attack or stroke, or certain kinds of cancers including colon and breast. Once you have been diagnosed with cancer or suffer a heart-related medical emergency, you might not get a second chance to make a lifestyle change. If you have diabetes, by losing weight and getting in shape, you may be able to get off your medication.

2) Look and feel better

Let’s face it – if you look better, you feel better. Many overweight and out-of-shape people don’t like the way they look and because of their self-image, suffer from low self-esteem. That can lead to a whole host of mental problems ranging from stress to depression. But by exercising, not only will you lose weight, but also tone and firm muscles. All of a sudden you are buying clothes off of the rack and you like the way they fit. Your mental state of mind improves and you have a better outlook on life. Wouldn’t that be great!

3) Live longer

As a parent, we want to be around to see our children get married and have children of their own – your grandkids. But the sad fact is many people out-of-shape will not be able to see those two events, because they will die at an early age – something that most likely could have been prevented with proper diet and exercising earlier in their life.

4) Reduce stress

Excessive stress is a killer – literally. It raises your blood pressure, floods your system with cortisol, which in turn prevents you from maintaining your weight, and keeps you awake at night. All of this eventually takes a toll on your health. Eventually your body can’t handle it and something bad happens.

But one of the outlets of stress relief is exercising. Not only does it lower the stress you are currently feeling, but it enables you to handle future stress better, thus keeping your health better in check.

5) Have more energy

If you are not fit now, you don’t know what you are missing. Wouldn’t you like to be able to run around and have fun with your kids or grandkids while they are still young? Before you know it, they will be grown-up and gone and you’ll not had that fun as a parent or grandparent.

6) Be more productive

Working or maintaining a home can be exhausting if you are overweight and out of shape; but it doesn’t have to be that way. By getting fitter, you’ll be better able to do more things around the house easier, such as laundry, grocery shop, vacuum and cleaning. At work, you’ll increase the amount of work you get done in a day, because you are not exhausted by noon. Everything you do just gets easier once you are fit.

If you don’t do it for yourself (which is who you should be doing it for), at least do it for your loved ones. Make sure you are there for them when they need you the most.

How Can You Turn Exercise Into a Permanent Habit?

Before we discuss how you can turn exercising into a habit, let’s first define a habit. The dictionary says it is “A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.”

To make something become a habit require us to go through a three-step process:
• Selecting the activity
• Establishing a “trigger”
• Creating a reward

1) Selecting the activity

In our case, we want to make exercising a habit. By doing so, it takes out the negotiability factor. After it is a habit, you won’t even think twice about not doing it.

We all have a busy life, so it is easy to put off exercising when something else with a higher priority gets in the way. Once exercising is a habit, it is something you do mostly without thinking regardless of what else you have going on at the time.

2) Establishing a “trigger”

Part of establishing a habit is creating a “trigger” – an event that when it happens, your unconscious tells you to go do that activity. If your time to exercise is in the morning right after you get up, then getting out of bed is your trigger. If you exercise in front of the T.V., then when your favorite program comes on could be your trigger to exercise. Exercise after work and it could be the commute at the end of the work day that is the trigger for you to stop at the gym on the way home.

3) Creating a reward

When going through the process of making something a habit, we need to establish a goal. Once we reach that goal, we need to reward ourselves and set a new and higher goal. By having that “carrot on a string” hanging in front of us, it gives us the incentive to keep doing the activity until we get the reward. However, if exercising is your activity and losing weight your goal, don’t sabotage your success by using food as a reward.

A reward could be a new swimsuit a size smaller that you purchased but can’t fit into yet, or a movie after losing 10 pounds, or …; it can be anything that you want that supports your success in reaching your goal.

So How Long Does It Take to Establish a Habit?

It varies from person to person. The University College London conducted a habit formation study and found it took anywhere from 18 to 254 days for participants to establish a habit. The average was 66 days. Other studies support their 66-day findings. Don’t get discouraged if it takes you longer than average to establish your exercise habit. It will come eventually!

The point is forming a new habit (or getting rid if a bad one) takes time and commitment. But by selecting a trigger, goal and reward, you can do to make exercising a habit.

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