3 ways to get into good exercise habits

At this time of year a lot of our blog posts are based around new year resolutions and sticking to your health and fitness goals and it’s usually around February when we , as personal trainers see an increase in new enquiries and this year is no different.

We are very busy at the moment  with new clients coming through, so it would appear at this time, that people are looking to change things in their life; presumably that’s the main driver behind hiring a Personal Trainer, right?

I recently had a conversation with a client about a book I read 2 years ago called  The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  which looks at “why we do what we do and how to change”.

Breaking bad habits

The book deals with habits in general and how we can change them, and, obviously, I am interested in how people can change their habits to help them in their quest to achieve their health and fitness goals.

In the book the author talks about how, in order to change a habit, we should look at three aspects :

1.The Cue

2. The Routine

3. The Reward

So, to explain this in the book, the author provides many examples but there is one inparticular I think we can all relate to:

Whilst we are performing a routine task we hear the “bing” from our phone telling us we have an email or a text, at which point we start to wonder what this new message might contain.

This is The Cue.

The Routine is to open the email or read that text because it gives us the distraction that we crave to take us away from the mundane task we are in the middle of.

The Reward, in this example, is receiving the good, interesting or exciting news that we were hoping to receive in order to distract us from what we were doing. This is fine, of course, if the news is indeed exciting; we feel happy about that and we have been distracted from our routine. If the text/email is not so exciting we are back to square one until the next “bing”

However, when we are doing something we really enjoy, let’s say going to the movies, we tend to switch off our phones, or at least put them on to silent, so we don’t get distracted.

So, let’s get back to my world of gym, health, exercise and fitness and give you an example:

Let’s say you are sat at home after a hard day’s work and feeling a bit sorry for yourself and/or tired. This is your Cue to drink a glass of wine in order to crave that “ahh, that feels better” feeling, which is , of course, your reward.

What Charles Duhigg looks at next in the book is this: (and this is the bit i find really interesting)

In order to change our habits we should change the routine part of this pattern.

Your Cue :

You are back on your sofa after that hectic/tiring day at work

Your Routine :

You fancy that glass of wine

Your Reward :

You feel better


Personal Trainer in Ealing

There is, of course, room for both in our lives but we all know which one is better for us!


What the author is saying here is that in order to change a habit which is bad, we must change the routine part of the equation; the cue and the reward stay the same because we will nearly always have the same cue and we will nearly always desire the same reward or outcome.

The bit that has to change is the bit in the middle: the routine which is the bit that gives us the reward.

Just make one small change to your routine and you will start to change your life around and get fitter, healthier and feel much much better!

Instead of that glass of wine :

  • Go for a 10-15 min walk or jog
  • Stick on a fitness DVD and just do 10-15 mins of it
  • Put on a Yoga DVD and follow a 15 min section
  • Do  10 press ups, squats and AB Crunches 3 times round

Anything that gets you moving for just 10 or 15 mins 3 times a week means you are on the right road to making healthy changes in your life

So, next time you are sitting on your sofa after a tough day you know what to do


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