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Easy Ways to Automate Fitness

Finding time to fit in fitness can feel daunting. Maybe the class you’d like at the gym is way too early or late to fit in to your schedule, or maybe you think there’s nothing you enjoy enough to do on a regular basis.

I recently wrote about automating healthy eating choices, and doing the same for fitness can have a big impact on how often you’re lacing up your sneakers.

As a reminder, willpower is a resource that gets used up as the day goes on, so the more decisions you have to make, the less willpower you have by the end of the day. If you decided you’d go to a yoga class after work and had a rough day that involved many decisions, your willpower for changing, driving over to the studio, and postponing dinner may have abandoned you.

Which is why making your choices automatic is a great way to stop relying on willpower. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Put out your workout clothes the night before. If you’ve planning a morning workout, sometimes even the task of finding the right pair of shorts or a sports bra can make you decide staying in bed is way easier, so make it a habit: when you brush your teeth, lay out your workout clothes. Want to work out at lunch or after work? Make packing your clothes (or a gym bag) part of your after-dinner clean up routine.
  2. Get all the necessary equipment read the night before, too. If you have an exercise DVD you want to do before work, queue it up the night before so it’s ready to go. If you want to stretch after work, lay out the mat before you leave the house in the morning. If you want to do some strength training when you come home for your lunch break, pull out the weights so you see them! It’s much easier to follow through when everything is all ready for you.
  3. Pick consistent days and times to exercise. I take my daughter for a walk every single day after breakfast; I no longer even think about it or hem and haw, I just know I’m going to do it. Pick a class that meets right after work and is on the way home so it’s super convenient. Keep your sneakers in the car and make an after-lunch walk part of your noon-time routine.
  4. Put it in your calendar. Something about seeing it in your schedule makes it feel all official and will encourage you to follow through. And, since you’re picking consistent days and times to exercise, you can just set the event to “repeat” so it’s already in your daily planner.
  5. Enlist a friend. If you know someone else who is also trying to make fitness automatic, join forces! Not only will it make exercising more fun, but when someone is counting on you to also get up at the crack of dawn, it will make you even more likely to get yourself in gear.
  6. Create a schedule that makes sense for you, and start small if need be. Listen, if you haven’t exercised since the Clinton administration, putting 6 days of workouts into your calendar and laying out your yoga pants ahead of time might not do it. Try scheduling a standing engagement for a walk with friends every Saturday. Add in a stretch session a night or two a week while you’re watching TV. Join a friend for a beginner’s spin class. Take it slow and build up over time.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.