Build an Exercise Habit

I’m not exactly anyone’s fitness icon…

I’ll be honest, I ate a whole bag of dinner rolls with butter before I wrote this post. Nobody’s perfect…


I’ll tell you what else,

I’ve worked out consistently for the past 40 days.


I did it with my crazy morning routine… (I’ll tell you more about that on another day). I set a tiny goal and stuck to my commitment. I’ve worked out for about 8-20 minutes for all 40 days, including weekends and holidays.

Why should I exercise?

When I was doing my research for this post, I came across the “Physical Activity Guidelines” from the United States Government site The guidelines were created in 2008, so if they feel a little out-dated, you’re right. Luckily, there should be another edition coming out at the end of 2018! I’ll keep you posted.

According to, consistent physical activity can help you to live longer, prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

How much is enough?

Here’s what us “adults” should do. If you’re between the ages of 18-64, these are the recommendations. Obviously I’m not a doctor and I’m certainly no health junky (remember, I was eating a bag of bread a few minutes ago…), so take all of this information with a huge grain of salt and consult a real live doctor with your questions and fitness needs.

“Avoid Inactivity”

This is on my level. Basically, if you can choose something active (going for a walk) over something inactive (watching another episode of Friends) you’re on the right track!


This is a major factor in trying not to die young from a heart attack or stroke. The government committee came up with three guidelines for endurance activities (cardio) that should help the general population become more healthy.

150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week,

which is 2 & 1/2 hours of activities like a fast-paced walk, general house cleaning, heavy yard work, climbing stairs, biking (<10 mph), snorkeling, dancing, or mowing the lawn.

At this level you should be able to talk, but not sing!


75 minutes of vigorous activity per week,

which is 1 hour & 15 minutes of strenuous hiking, rowing/kayaking, running (8 mph), swimming, and jumping rope.

At this level you should be able to say a few words and then need to take a breath.

Make sure you spend at least 10 minutes at a time on cardio and spread the sessions out to at least three separate sessions per week!

Strength Training

The recommendations for strength training are relatively vague compared to the amount of information they share for cardio! Basically, they recommend working out each of the large muscle groups two times per week. 1 set of 8 to 12 reps is sufficient for the benefits of increased bone strength, but ultimately you should work the muscles until they are too tired to continue.

Reality Check

The majority of us are not getting that much exercise, especially those of us who sit in front of computers all day and go home to relax watching TV or (cough) blogging.

Am I getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity? No.

Not yet.

The thing is, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. So when we start a new exercise routine we try the full two and a half hours that is recommended. But we don’t acknowledge the fact that we need to do a little work to get into shape. I have spent 5 to 10 minutes for the past 40 days working out and I feel a lot stronger.

I was able to stick with it because my goal was reasonable. I didn’t try to dive in with the recommended amount of cardio right away.

Here’s my goal: do some sort of exercise every morning.

Here’s how I did: Some mornings I did not feel like doing anything, but instead I counted down in my head (5…4…3…2…1) and either turned on a workout video, started a 7 minute workout on my phone, practiced my yoga routine, or cycled through sit-ups, push-ups, and squats in my living room.

Every day I completed my goal, I built a little more momentum.  I felt a whole lot better about myself throughout the day knowing I’d already worked out.

My favorite kind of workout is yoga for sure. I also like Pop Pilates and I’ll do some classic exercises as well. I hook my TV up to YouTube so that I can watch some exercise videos.

How to build a workout habit


  1. Find a time that’s easy for you to build in your habit. I find that 4 AM is the perfect time to build a new habit because I will absolutely never ever be interrupted.
  2. Pick something simple and painless to do every day. For me I have been practicing yoga moves that I learned in one of the books I’m reading. I work my way through the routine with some soft music playing in the background and it really starts my day off right. Other times I’ve been a runner and I would go out and hit the road bright and early.
  3. Make the goal so small that you can’t help but accomplish it. For example if you can do one push-up and your goal is to do five push-ups, set your goal to be consistent with one push-up for 20 days. That way you’ll build the habit of working out without getting too discouraged.
  4. Mark your calendar. It might be a good idea to start at the beginning of the month and put an X on the date every single day that you do your habit. That way you have a nice visual of the days that you’ve racked up and it will help you to stay motivated throughout a full month.

Great workout resources


“Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” Edited by Michael O. Leavitt,, 22 Sept. 2008,


2 thoughts on “Build an Exercise Habit

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