It's been scientifically proven, don'cha know.
We’ve all been there; you’ve been hitting the gym full tilt for about three weeks, and suddenly your motivation feels like it’s all but run out. Getting up for that 6am sesh feels borderline impossible. Ugh.
Well, if you have difficulty following through with your fitness goals, science says developing an instigation habit is the key to making it stick, but, er, what’s an instigation habit when it’s at home?
Put simply, it’s a cue that tells you to work out and makes exercise a non-negotiable. In other words, when your alarm starts shrieking first thing in the morning, you know that’s your signal to get up and go to the gym.
According to research at Iowa State University, an instigation habit is the only reliable predictor of exercise frequency. In a study of 118 adults, they found that 50 per cent of those surveyed said they exercised regularly, as a result of creating this important cue.
The study’s co-researcher Alison Phillips explains that “regardless of the type of exercise you’re going to do on a particular day, if you have an instigation habit, you’ll start exercising without having to think a lot about it or consider the pros and cons.”
Right, so how do you go about developing an instigation habit?
The key is to develop a cue, and this usually involves working out at the same time of day. The study’s authors also suggest following the same routine, at least at the beginning of your fitness journey, to help create the habit.
Over time, certain cues will signal that it’s time for you to workout; whether that’s your alarm going off first thing in the morning or logging off the office computer at 5pm.
The important thing to remember is that creating a habit takes time. In fact, the study’s authors suggest that’ll it take at least a month before working out becomes a reflexive action. The key? If you’re only a few weeks in, keep sticking at it and you might just form the habit of a lifetime.