The #1 Way to Create a Fitness Habit That Sticks
The secret to achieving your fitness goals? Use the “streak” method to set specific, attainable goals you’ll have fun working toward.
Sticking with a fitness program long-term isn’t easy. Life gets in the way, even for those with decathlete-worthy dedication and willpower of steel. Add to that the inexact science about what it takes to turn an intention into a lasting habit and we can end up rolling our eyes instead of lifting our weights.
Some studies say 21 days is the magic number of repetitions necessary to establish a habit, while others more than triple that and swear by 66 days as the necessary length of time for a behavior to become ingrained as routine. Yet most of us know by good old unquantifiable but undeniable personal experience that even then, even with 68+ days for good measure, we’re going to slip.
One way to get around potential habit pitfalls is to focus less on creating and establishing enduring habits and more on mastering small, doable streaks. A four day “streak” of daily jogging, for example, or a three-week streak of balancing exercises might not be a total fitness game-changer, but it can help elevate and energize stale routines or inspire a jumpstart to new and more lasting habits. By lowering the bar, these fitness streaks help you achieve some early, easy “wins” that can build confidence and lead to bigger payoffs down the line.
Here’s how it works. Pick your activity of choice—jogging or running, cycling, swimming, walking, yoga—and commit to doing it for _________(your choice of short period of time/distance) during a streak of ______days. The idea is to make it a doable and fun.
And here’s the other part: your “streak” should meet the following acronym requirements (disclaimer, this is borrowed/tweaked from the popular Project S.M.A.R.T. goal setting rubrics).
Don’t say I’m going to be “active”; define the exact activity, as in “I will run one mile.”
Be clear as to how long you will do this specific activity over what period of days, e.g.: “I will run one mile every day for 4 weeks.” You could further set time frameworks for how fast or slow you will do said activity if you wish.
The activity should be relevant to your personal goals, and relevant too to your history. For example, if you’ve never ever run a mile in your life, don’t make that your streak. Bike to the corner store and back; do 45 jumping jacks every day for X days. Choose something that fits into your lifestyle and your fitness toolkit.
Choose a streak goal that will be an uplifting and fun energy boost, not a drag.
As in, the KISS principle (Keep It Silly, Stupid). Have fun!! Be kid-like and make your goal streak-worthy. If it’s fun, then you’ll be happy to do it, and will ultimately be a successful streaker.