Healthy Habits 101

habits healthy habits Sep 01, 2021

What is a habit?

Think of something you do everyday, let’s take brushing your teeth. Now ask yourself this, do you brush your teeth because you are super motivated to improve your dental health?

The answer is likely no. It is more likely you brush your teeth out of habit, something that has been drilled into you as a child. So put simply, a habit is a behaviour that has been repeated enough to become automatic. Now small habits can make a big difference. Just like putting small sums of money into your superannuation over time, a 1% improvement in a habit every week compounds over the long term but it is often hard to see the positive outcomes in the short term. So habit forming is all about making small, consistent efforts.

A brief word on motivation and willpower...

Motivation is great and helps us do some impressive things in life however when it comes to exercise, motivation or willpower isn’t something we want to rely on. It is volatile and changes day to day. There will be days when the weather is cold and the warm bed seems like a much better option. What is much more reliable and important for long term success is process. So let’s go through some habit forming tips which are likely to keep you exercising in the long run… no pun intended!

Process Tip #1 - Plan your exercise

We plan and schedule so much in our busy lives. We have schedules for work, we plan family and social gatherings with specific locations and times, we plan holidays, we even go to financial planners… the list goes on. So why not plan your exercise?

  • Schedule your exercise in your diary or phone calendar and make sure you write a specific date and time. If you need a planner here is a free exercise planner resource.
  • Schedule a time to exercise when you know you won’t be distracted and when you have more energy. So if you are a morning person then plan for a morning workout and if you can fit in a walk at lunch time then great!

Process Tip #2 - Keep yourself accountable

Have you ever begun an exercise program by yourself? The first week goes well and then by week two things get in the way? This is often an issue of accountability. So when trying to form better exercise habits, make yourself accountable to others. 

  • Exercise in a group or with a friend - being accountable to others is great for habit forming. Firstly, exercising with others is often more enjoyable. Secondly, you are expected to be at a certain location at a certain time. No one wants to let their friend down, so organise a weekly walk, join a sporting team or get involved with your local bushwalking club.
  • Make a financial commitment - if you really struggle with structure and need more accountability, then don’t be afraid to pay for guidance. This could be a resistance training group at your local physio or gym, joining a dance class or signing up to an online fitness program.

Process Tip #3 - Do something rather than nothing

It is important to note that even small amounts of exercise are going to be beneficial for you. 

  • If you are tired and don’t feel like walking your usual 40 minute walking route, just do a five minute walk. This is still beneficial and by the time you are walking you may feel like doing more. 
  • Injury sucks and often makes you feel like you can’t exercise for fear of hurting yourself more. We recommend continuing to exercise and move in ways that are tolerable. So if you have a knee injury or pain, try swimming. Maybe you have hurt your shoulder, try going for a walk or bike ride. If you have back pain, don’t completely rest, try a gentle walk through the park. And when it comes to resistance training remember that you can usually always modify the painful movements or find a suitable substitution. For ideas about how to work around pain, watch our video on How to modify any painful movement.

Some important extra points

Keep it simple.

At Be Mobile, we believe the best exercise is the one that is getting done! We believe in simplicity. So when it comes to exercise, don’t over complicate it. The exercise guidelines are simple:

  • Aim to be active every day, performing 30 minutes of moderate-vigorous intensity physical activity. This could be walking, bike riding, golf, aerobics, bush running, gardening, tennis, ballroom dancing, zumba… take your pick!
  • Perform resistance training twice per week, aiming to work big muscle groups using large movements such as squatting, lifting and pressing (we have got you covered here - check out our Free At-Home Workout)

A common misconception around exercise is that you have to do a minimum of 30 minutes a day to get benefit out of exercise. This is false. Any amount of exercise is good for you (John et al. 2019) . For someone who is sedentary, ten minutes of exercise a day can have great health benefits. 

So maybe you are just starting out after a long break from exercise or maybe you are recovering from a surgery or injury. You may not tolerate 30 minutes a day of exercise and that’s fine. You can simply start with a ten minute walk or ten stands from a chair per day. 


Keep it fun.

If your version of fun is running on a treadmill that is unreal, but for many it isn’t. One of the big reasons people do not stick to exercise is because they don’t enjoy it. Now you don’t have to enjoy every moment of exercise, we aren’t fans of pure hedonism but in saying that you should want to do exercise! 

So pick something you look forward to. If you like to dance then join a dance class, if getting out in nature is your thing, start bushwalking or mountain biking and if running on a treadmill is still what invigorates you then don’t stop.

Exercise is an effective treatment for a vast amount of diseases, especially ones which come about due to being sedentary. So remember that you don’t have to break records, you just have to get going and keep going. Keep it fun. Keep it simple.

Hopefully you are chucking your joggers on and about to head out for some exercise but if not you can watch our video on habit forming - Watch the video HERE



References

  •  JAKICIC, J., KRAUS, W., POWELL, K., CAMPBELL, W., JANZ, K., & TROIANO, R. et al. (2019). Association between Bout Duration of Physical Activity and Health: Systematic Review. Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, 51(6), 1213-1219. doi: 10.1249/mss.0000000000001933
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