How to make fitness a habit

Sometimes people have unrealistic expectations about motivation remaining high all the time. But it doesn’t, in anyone. What we need is the ability to do things even when we don’t feel motivated. Especially when we don’t feel motivated.

We frequently do things we are not motivated to do. We do them either because we view them as non-negotiable (going to work, cleaning the sink), we don’t think about them at all (automatic habits like cleaning our teeth) or we know from experience we will feel awful if we choose an option (staying up reading til 2am when we have to get up early). 

We want to make our healthy and fit choices more like these – unavoidable, automatic and good options we actively choose. So even when we do not feel like working out, we still do.


If we really, really want to avoid a workout we will, but we can make it less easy for us to avoid by creating strong habits. The first strong habit for good fitness is to PLAN! If we don’t plan when we’re working out and what we’re going to do, it is more likely that we will skip a session. 

At the start of the week, write down your plan for working out. Be detailed. What day and time will you work out? What will you do? Not just ‘running’ or ‘lower leg workout’ but how long or how far, how fast, which exercises or particular workout.  

Once you’ve written your plan, assess how likely it is you will stick to it. If it feels unlikely now, it’s probably not going to happen. If it feels too much, look at what you need to reduce until it feels like a likely option. Is it frequency, intensity or duration of workouts? 

Now look at why you would be most likely to skip a workout. If you think you may not have time, could you switch the workout to a different time? If you are not sure you will feel up to a higher intensity workout, can you add a back-up like a walk instead? 

Make it automatic

Look at what you need to do to support your workout decisions. Getting kit ready, working out pre/post workout nutrition, having someone with you, organising childcare, downloading workouts, booking gym time. What needs to be done so that the likelihood of you doing these workouts is the highest it can be?

Once you’re satisfied with your plans, put them in your planner or calendar, physical or digital. Treat these as an appointment where you just have to show up.

Reward yourself for sticking to your plan. Not with food, but with something else that will make you feel happy. My favourite reward for a winter run is to have a bath when I get back (regardless of if it is still