4 Ways to Turn Exercise Into a Habit


The overall obesity trend continues to worsen across the board. The super-sizing of our waist size is driven by our American lifestyle, not our genes, according to a study in the American Heart Journal. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. I frequently have the weight conversation with my patients. Patients often respond, “I know what I need to do to do lose weight, but just need to do it!” The big issue with the rise in obesity surrounds habits. And bad habits are hard to break. It takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit, according to a 2009 study. Change won’t happen overnight. So how do you make the change? Here are 4 tips I recommend to turn a bad habit into a good one.

1. Don’t join a gym. Try the Mall.
Don’t join a gym at least until you’re committed to go to your gym regularly – meaning at least 3 times a week. So start small: Walk just 20 minutes a day during your lunch break. Over time, you’ll develop daily walking into a good habit. If it’s raining outside, do daily brisk walks in the malls. For the shopaholics out there, do your walk first, then reward yourself with shopping after. Over time increase your pace. If you’re already active, over time your body acclimates so you need to keep pushing yourself if your current routine is too easy or not working.

2. Workout with a friend.
Exercise works even better with an accountability partner to keep you motivated. If that workout buddy is more fit than you, then even better. A 2010 study in The Journal of Social Sciences found that the more active a person you work out with, the more likely you’ll move up to their level. The opposite was also found. If you workout with an unmotivated person, they potentially could bring you down to their level.

3. Join a sport
Basketball is my sport of choice. I’m not that good, so I make it up with hustle. I run
up and down the basketball court constantly (probably because no one passes me the ball). But at least I’m getting my exercise! If you like to dance, try a Zumba class, or dance at your local community center. Dance is great for cardio, strengthens your core, and is fun! Tai Chi is another great exercise routine. Multiple studies have backed up the effectiveness of this gentle yet powerful mind-body practice, showing it helps improve balance, strength and flexibility.

4. Make time: Do a TV cleanse
If you find you’re coming up with excuses to do these basic suggestions at this point, then you have to change the way you think! Lack of time is probably the top reason for not exercising. However, if you make something a high enough priority, you will find a way to make time. Try a one-week hiatus from watching TV, particularly Reality TV. Sorry to all the Reality TV fans, but it’s time to spend some time in your own reality, not someone else’s. I can assure you that you will be just fine if you take one week off. If anything, you might feel even better.

Our waist sizes are only worsening because of the standard American lifestyle. It’s time to build up some exercise momentum, especially with the cold hibernation weather still here. When it comes to turning exercise into a habit, make it easy. If it’s too hard, you’ll fail fast. If it’s too cold to walk outside, walk in the mall. If you truly can’t give up your TV shows, just promise yourself to exercise during commercials. Do you think you can fit in at least 10 pushups or do 10 seconds of planks during a commercial break?

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About Dr. Michael Corsilles

Michael began practicing naturopathic medicine in 2003 after receiving his medical training at Bastyr University, an internationally recognized leader in natural medicine. Naturopathic medicine is a distinct profession of primary health care, emphasizing promotion of optimal health through the use of nutrients, herbs, physical medicine, and homeopathy. Michael recognized the need to integrate naturopathic medicine with conventional medicine so obtained a Physician Assistant certification from the University of Washington. There is an increasing demand for integrated healthcare, and as a naturopathic physician and a physician assistant, Michael can merge both types of medicine to provide a well-rounded plan of care to my patients. Michael chose medicine as a career because he truly enjoy interacting with people and sharing life experiences. A visit to your health care provider should not only be about treating disease, but also about promoting a healthy lifestyle. Michael trys to foster a mutually respectful relationship with each patient to promote a team approach to medicine.

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