We are getting pretty comfortable with the two-mile run. Now that we can comfortably run with-out any walking we are about to start timing ourselves and working on increasing our pace to make sure we can meet our 60 percent time standard (24:24 for Tracy and 23:42 for Courtney).
There seems to be a long-standing myth that it takes about 21 days for a new habit to form. Many people have studied the concept of habit-making and there are varying ideas about the length of time it takes to form them. Some say days, some say months, others say it is about setting realistic and small goals.
We want running, pushups, and sit-ups to become habit, just like something small we do every day, such as brushing our teeth. When we brush our teeth, chances are that we give it no thought at all. If we do think about it, we are probably not thinking how much we dislike it, how we don’t want to do it, or even how it is good for our oral health. We just do it because it is habit and routine, and just what we do every day.
Here are some of the things that are helping us make physical fitness a habit:
- If you are new to running, start by walking for 10 minutes. Then, for the next 15 minutes, alternate 30 seconds walking and 30 seconds running. End by walking for 10 more minutes. Do this three times per week.
- Work out with a partner, whenever you can.
- Make your workout something you can do anywhere, whether at home, at work, or somewhere else. For us, this means keeping spare workout clothes and shoes in the car at all times for lunchtime or after-work workouts. Make it difficult to talk yourself out of exercising!
- At home, map out a two mile route in your neighborhood so that you can be ready to run at a moment’s notice.
- Do pushups or sit-ups during commercials of your favorite TV program.
- Schedule time for physical fitness and exercise. Put it on your calendar and, as much as possible, try to stick to a routine (i.e. schedule workouts on the same days/times).
- Involve family members; children might think doing pushups with you is fun!
- Here are some of the things you can try to make mental fitness a habit:
- "Exercise releases endorphins—chemicals in your brain that boost your mood—giving you an instant surge in happiness…..Happiness Tip: Go on a short 20-minute walk. It will help you relax and make you more confident about your body." (GuardYourHealth.com)
- "By elevating your mood and energy levels, your morning workout will curb your cravings and motivate you to make other healthy choices throughout the day." (GuardYourHealth.com)
- "Don’t underestimate smiles," says psychologist Dan Hill. "When you smile, you pull more oxygen into your lungs. It makes you relaxed and open to possibilities…Happiness Tip: Think of something that makes you smile, like your favorite stand-up comedian or your team’s touchdown on Monday night. By making yourself smile, even when you’re feeling down, you really can trick yourself into feeling happier". (GuardYourHealth.com)
Commentary by Courtney J. Lynch and Tracy K. Ward, Psychological Health Coordinators