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10 Tips to Help you Stick to Exercise (Written By Siobhan Milner)

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

We know what it’s like. You buy the brand new running sneakers, download the latest fitness app, and make earnest plans to get up at 5am every day and run a marathon before breakfast (or something to that effect!).

Creating a new habit can be tricky if you don’t approach it correctly. But with these 10 handy tips, you’re much more likely to succeed in forming a healthy, habitual relationship with exercise.

1. Listen to music

One of the leading researchers on the use of music during sport and exercise has suggested that listening music while working might increase your chances of exercise adherence [1].

Music has been found to make hard exercise more enjoyable [1] and has also been found to make low-moderate exercise feel easier. [1][2][3][4]

Pick some music you like with an upbeat tempo to increase your exercise enjoyment. We all naturally like moving to a beat, so give your body a hand with the right tunes!

2. Make it social

Humans are social creatures. If you find that you’re the kind of person who gravitates naturally towards groups of people, social events, or even team sports, there’s a chance that you’ll enjoy working out more if you do it with others.

Schedule a walking catch up with a friend, or listen to your favourite album together while doing some strength training.

Better yet, if you’re the competitive type, organise a run with a friend whom you know has a slightly faster pace than you!

3. Be accountable

Here’s where working out with a friend can come doubly in handy. It’s one thing to make our own plans to exercise, but how much more likely are you to follow through with them if someone else is counting on you to do it?

If you’ve organised to work out with a friend, you’ll be letting them down if you don’t turn up. Likewise, if you simply tell someone you’re off for a run that evening, they might ask how it went the next day – no one likes having to admit they stayed on the couch instead!

If you have a regular workout buddy, it could be a good idea to swap schedules with them. Send them a text on the day they’re heading to the pool and wish them a good swim. Words of encouragement can go a long way!

4. Make it part of your routine

Do you ever moan about having to brush your teeth morning and night? Nope, you just do it. Because it’s good for you.

Yes, introducing regular exercise into a somewhat sedentary lifestyle is a big shift. The key is “Start low, progress slow.” Pick 3 days a week that you’ll exercise for a solid 30 minutes, then progress from there (any small amount is better than nothing!).

Try to pick regular days and times. If you’ve decided that Monday night is the night you’ll go to yoga, make it happen every Monday. If Wednesday is the morning you’ll walk the dog in the hills, set a recurring alarm for each week and have your gear ready every Tuesday night.

5. Plan in advance

Which brings us to planning. We all have busy lives, but with planning, it’s easy to fit 30-60mins of exercise into a day that has 1,440 minutes!

If you use a physical diary, sit down on a Sunday and plan your exercise days and times for the next week. If you’re more technologically inclined, there are a plethora of health and fitness apps available, or even just productivity-focussed apps and websites like Todoist.

Take into account the days when you know you’re busy with other things, and take advantage of the little gaps you have (or can make) in your day.

6. Record your efforts

Were you one of those kids that loved star charts at school? Sometimes a visual representation of your progress is just the motivation you need to keep going.

You can easily mark on a physical calendar the days you were active and what exactly you did, or if you prefer to bring accountability (and maybe some friendly competition!) into it, join an online activity-tracking site like Attackpoint or MapMyRun.

7. Choose a goal

Aimlessly completing hundreds of squats and sit ups a day isn’t very inspiring if there’s no reason behind it.

Choose a goal, and try to make it SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed). It’s easy to say, “I want to get fitter,” but it’s much easier to track progress on a goal like, “I want to run 10km with stopping by September.”

A goal will also give you something to visualise and encourage yourself with while you’re training. Why am I up running at 6am? Because I want to be strong and fit enough to complete a 10km run in a few months time!

8. Attend some classes

Sometimes, we just need to be told what to do. Fitness classes, such as boot camps, are great because they kill a whole lotta birds with one stone.

They’re social, you’ve planned to commit to them once you’ve paid and registered, you’re held accountable by the trainer and your peers, and you know you’re going to be working at a good intensity for a full hour.

Plus, there’s often music playing, and with a fun and friendly atmosphere, you’re bound to enjoy it!

9. Get a PT

Schedule all over the show? Working rotating shifts? Or do you just prefer one-on-one training? A personal trainer will definitely help you stick to exercise.

You can use personal trainers as much or as little as you like, and they can help you by planning individual sessions, writing programmes for you to carry alone, and even help you with your goal-setting. And once again, it’s someone to keep you accountable!

10. Choose something you enjoy

If you hate going to the gym, it’s useless to plan to attend 5 days a week. Enjoyment is essential for adherence.

Work out what makes you tick. Is it have a goal? Is it being competitive? Is it meeting new people? What kind of exercise best fits this?

There are a plethora of options out there, so don’t be afraid to try them!


[1] Karageorghis, C., & Priest, D. (2008). Music in Sport and Exercise: An Update on Research and Application. Refereed Sports Journal.

[2] Karageorghis, C., & Priest, D. (2008). Music in Sport and Exercise: An Update on Research and Application. Refereed Sports Journal.

[3] Nethery, V. M. (2002). Competition between internal and external sources of information during exercise: Influence on RPE and the impact of the exercise load. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 42, 172–178.

[4] Szmedra, L., & Bacharach, D. W. (1998). Effect of music on perceived exertion, plasma lactate, norepinephrine and cardiovascular hemodynamics during treadmill running. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 19, 32–37.

#music #personaltraining #bootcamps #Accountability #goalsetting

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