Inside the pages of a calendar, people run, bike, do yoga, and walk in a sunny park.

Building an Exercise Habit This Spring That You’ll Keep All Year

Ah, it's spring! The flowers are blooming, the temperatures are warming up, and it's actually pleasant to be outside.

Spring is also one of the ideal seasons, along with early autumn, to make exercise a habit. Why? Because some of the top exercise avoidance excuses, which we all have said from time to time, are related to the weather. Excuses like "I can’t go for a walk; it’s raining!" or "I'm not going to play tennis out there; it's freezing!"

Exercise feels more enjoyable in good weather

When the weather is warm and sunny, or just a bit cool but pleasantly so, almost every outdoor activity seems more enjoyable. And with type 2 diabetes, building an exercise routine will help you manage your blood sugar for overall health.

Examples of outdoor physical activities

Take advantage of the weather by walking with your family every night after dinner. Or, plan a weekly Saturday biking date with friends.

Have you wanted to try pickleball? Based on the number of people I see playing it on local tennis courts, I'd bet you won't have a problem finding other players, and the weather is just right.

Biking, jogging, tennis, tai chi, yoga, just about any activity feels just right in the spring.

How to make exercise a habit

Once you've decided that you are going to make exercise a habit in the good weather, here are some ideas to help it stick.

Commit to an activity you enjoy

First, pick an activity that you already enjoy, have enjoyed in the past, or feel at least moderately excited about doing. Choose an activity that you like rather than forcing yourself to do something because you think you "should." This will make you more likely to keep it up.

Schedule exercise on your calendar

Next, schedule the activity on your calendar. I know it can feel tedious to add exercise dates to your calendar, but every little bit that will remind and encourage you to follow through helps.

Invite a friend or take a pet

Lastly, if you can, ask a friend or family member to join you in your commitment. It's much easier to skip something when you're the only person you're canceling on. But when you plan to do the activity with someone else, they can hold you accountable (and vice versa).

By the way, this also works if you have a dog; commit to walking them each morning or evening, and they'll be the ones to remind you it's time to lace up your sneakers!

How long does it take to build a habit?

Even though there's an idea that "it takes 90 days to form a habit" floating around on the internet, that's not necessarily true. There are varying estimates of how long it takes to form a habit.

There's no definite number of days that will guarantee a new habit will be formed. However, there are several things you can do to help solidify your new habit.

Be mindful of how you feel

Pause to notice how you feel during and after physical activity. If you've just walked your dog or gone for a bike ride with your family, do not move on to your next task immediately. Stop. Check-in with yourself, congratulate yourself and pat yourself on the back if you'd like.

Bask in the positive feelings of following through. This helps your brain to create new pathways that will remind you in the future that moving feels good!

Make a plan for inclement weather

As you build your habit in beautiful weather, consider ways to keep it up in the hot or stormy weather. If you love walking, consider how to continue with it in the future. Do you need a quality rain jacket? What will you do when it's too hot to walk outside? Are you willing to get up early to go when it's cold? Make a plan for continuing.

Think ahead to the cold weather as well. If you enjoy biking, how will you do it when it's cold? Will you join a gym or buy a stationary bike? Is there a place to ride indoors in your town? Be proactive now to keep going with your new habit later.

The formula for success

Choosing an enjoyable activity, being mindful about how it feels, and planning for inclement weather are a formula for success, no matter what the season brings!

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