Between balancing work, friends, family, and other aspects of life, it can be difficult to stick to a regular workout routine. No matter how well-intentioned you are, it’s easy to find that you’re too tired after a long day at the office or that your weekends get booked up quickly with other obligations. But just because you find it hard to commit to regular exercise doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. With a few lifestyle tweaks, you can set up your day so that getting in a regular workout doesn’t feel like a struggle or hassle.
“Consistency and dedication are the best indicators of workout success, with success being loss of fat and increase of strength and ability,” says personal trainer Kathryn Alexander. “It is easier to stay in shape than get in shape, and it’s easier to build on a foundation than start with square one. This is why it is so important to stick to a routine.”
In theory, this sounds simple, but sticking to a routine requires a lot of commitment, whether it be time, energy, or even money. Getting into a routine does require some work on your end, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or dreadful. Instead, try incorporating these six habits that can help you commit to a workout regimen.
Prepare Everything You Need
If you’re someone who frequently finds themselves unprepared for the gym, plan ahead to avoid logistical issues. “Pack your gym bag the night before. Throw in a water bottle and protein bar or anything else you’ll need for a successful session,” Alexander says. “I keep extra deodorant, hair ties, dry shampoo, and towels in my locker, so I don’t have any excuses.”
Book It in Your Calendar
Many people feel like they’re too busy to commit to a workout routine. But if you schedule exercise into your calendar, you can avoid that problem. “Treat your workout as an important business meeting,” says personal trainer Rachel Donohue. “This is your health. Why shouldn’t it be top priority? Besides the various health benefits such as muscle strength and circulation, exercise also promotes mental clarity, confidence, and an energy boost.”
Pick What You Love
If your workout makes you feel miserable, there’s no way you’re going to want to do it consistently. For a regular workout routine, stick to something you enjoy. “Find what speaks to you fitness-wise, and stop doing what you think you ‘should be doing,’” says personal trainer Lauren Seib. “If you don’t love exercise, it won’t love you, and in turn, you won’t see the results you’ve been craving. Try out that new yoga class, hit the rock-climbing wall, or lace up those running shoes for the first time in months. Enjoying exercise is half the battle.”
Enlist a Buddy
To help you stick to your workout routine, find a workout buddy who can hold you accountable and make the process more fun. “Enlist your spouse, significant other, best friend, cousin—whomever—to join in on this with you,” says Aaptiv trainer Amanda Butler. “Even if you can’t work out together, just knowing that you’ll have to check in with them at the end of the day and tell them what you did—or didn’t do—will motivate you.”
Exercise First Thing in the Morning
When you’re exhausted after a long day of work, you’re less likely to feel motivated to hit the gym. If it’s possible within your schedule, exercise first thing in the morning to create a more consistent workout routine. “That way there are no excuses. You’ll be surprised how energized you are for your day,” Seib says. “Plus, there’s a ton of research out there supporting how fitness stimulates creativity, productivity, etc. So, hitting the gym pre-work can definitely have its benefits.”
“People who exercise regularly tend to do so because of the rewards it brings to their lives, such as more energy, better sleep, self-confidence, and a more natural healthy lifestyle,” Butler says. “However, these tend to be long-term rewards. When you’re starting an exercise program, it’s important to give yourself an immediate reward only when you complete a workout or reach a new fitness goal.” Choose something to look forward to after you exercise, such as a pedicure, lunch at your favorite restaurant, or watching your favorite Netflix show. The more you cultivate a positive relationship with exercise, the more you’ll be able to stick to a consistent workout routine.