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How to Make Fitness as Automatic as Brushing Teeth

By Sandy Schroeder

Finding out how to make fitness habits stick beyond that January burst of good intentions could be worth a fortune. If anyone comes up with a fullproof answer, there will be lines outside the door.

We all know the drill. In January we sign up for the gym, or get up early every morning to do an early morning run. By February, the glow is gone as fitness routines lag, but there may be help out there worth exploring.

It’s All About the Cues

Madlen Davies reported in the that the answer may be all about creating good cues. She covered a study by Dr Alison Phillips, assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State, and Dr. Benjamin Gardner, senior lecturer in psychology at King’s College, London, who found triggers that make people exercise without thinking can increase the amount of exercise they do.

The researchers recruited 123 healthy adults to study their exercise habits and effectiveness of cues. About a quarter of the participants were overweight. Five percent had not exercised and 50 percent had exercised regularly for more than a year. The researchers tracked how often the participants exercised for a month and asked them about their use of cues.

The researchers found participants who developed cues made their exercise automatic. The cue could be external or internal, and usually took about a month to become totally reliable. Some participants used alarms at home or at work. Others used situation cues like exercising right after work with the drive home serving as the cue to go to the gym.

If you think about your normal habits and regular schedule you may find exercise cues, too.

  • Use a favorite workout song as an alarm to do a morning workout
  • Park your exercise gear by the door the night before
  • Get in the exercise mood doing squats or lunges while brushing your teeth
  • Use regular mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks to signal walks
  • Take a walk around the block immediately after you finish dinner
  • Do a yoga routine right after you get up and have coffee in the morning
  • Fit a short exercise break into the mid-afternoon slump, helping to wake you up and keep you moving
  • Do crunches, push-ups or other strength exercises between TV programs in the evening.
  • Find a buddy who will show up every day after work to go for a run.

If one cue works, keep looking for more. The more comfortable they feel in the midst of your regular schedule, the more likely they will keep you moving.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Schaumburg, Ill.

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