Systems and Exercise Adherence


Sticking to any of your New Year’s goals poses a significant challenge as the year proceeds. Life generally gets in the way of our plans making it more difficult to achieve set resolutions. When it comes to achieving your goals, especially your fitness goals, the easiest way to do so is to simplify your process. One way to do this is to have set systems in place to take thought more or less out of the process entirely. Read further to get an idea of what a system is and how to implement it into your routine. 

What is a System?

Simply put, systems in daily life are just deeply ingrained habits that allow us to accomplish our daily, weekly, and monthly goals with less thought required. We have a “system” in place for our morning routine typically involving brushing our teeth, washing our face, showering and grooming. We have a similar system in place for winding down at the end of the day to prepare us for the next day. In order to successfully accomplish our goals, we have to choose daily habits to incorporate into our life (AKA systems) in order to make the process easier to adhere to.

If exercising more is a general goal you’d like to accomplish in 2022, think about how this action can be added to an already-existing system or incorporated into your routine as it’s own system. For example, if you’re looking to simply become more active, you can attach a short 10 minute walk to follow your breakfast and/or dinner routine. It’s a perfect window of opportunity to add in more movement to your routine without requiring too much added effort or thought. You can also find windows of opportunity to make exercising a habit on its own by going before or after work a few times a week. This requires some upfront effort to determine what type of exercise you’d want to do and where to do it, however, once those details have been made clear, it’s only a matter of following this system every week for a few weeks in a row to make it a fairly permanent part of your routine, a solidified system much like brushing your teeth. 

One Key Element to Systems 

When it comes to fitness, the key element to making it a part of your routine and a solidified system is enjoyment. If you do not enjoy the process of working out, try to find an activity you do like in order to stick to it long term. There’s always going to be some form of movement suited to your liking that may not always be conventional or popular. A quote from James Clear, author of NY Times best seller, ‘Atomic Habits,’ states: 

 “You don’t have to build the habits that everyone tells you to build.” 

It’s far easier to dedicate years of your life to a form of movement you actually enjoy as opposed to what is popular or even “optimal” at the moment. What’s optimal is sticking to your routine for years to come, not trying and quitting something after only a few months due to lack of enjoyment. 

Tony Gentilcore, fitness magazine contributor and writer at Tonygentilcore.com, states that being realistic and consistent is what works best long term. 

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ll start to think I’m a broken record at this point, however, the point remains the same. Consistency and enjoyment come first before long-lasting change because long-lasting change can only occur over time. It’s very challenging to stick to a fitness routine that leaves you feeling miserable. I suggest unless you’re training for an advanced placement in the military or a decathlon, pick a form of movement that’s fun, challenging enough, and easy to stick to over time. Choose what suits you and it’ll be a lot easier to stick to your New Year’s resolutions for years to come.

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