Sticking with a fitness program long-term isn’t easy. Life gets in the way, even for those with decathlete-worthy dedication and willpower of steel. Add to that the inexact science about what it takes to turn intention into a lasting habit, and we can end up rolling our eyes instead of lifting our weights.
Some studies say 21 days is the magic number of repetitions necessary to establish a habit, while others triple that and swear by 66 days as the necessary length of time for a behavior to become ingrained as routine. Yet most of us know—by good old unquantifiable but undeniable personal experience—that even with more than 66 days, we’re going to slip.
One way to get around potential habit pitfalls is to focus less on creating and establishing enduring habits and more on mastering small, doable streaks. A four-day “streak” of daily jogging, for example, or a three-week streak of balancing exercises might not be a total fitness game-changer, but it can help elevate and energize stale routines or jumpstart new and more lasting habits. By essentially lowering the bar, these fitness streaks help you achieve some early, easy “wins” that build confidence and lead to bigger payoffs down the line.
Here’s how it works: Pick your activity of choice—jogging, cycling, swimming, walking, yoga—and commit to doing it for a specific, short amount of time or distance during a streak of a specific number of days. The idea is to make it doable and fun.
And here’s the other part: Your “streak” should meet the following acronym requirements. (Disclaimer, this is borrowed and tweaked from the popular Project S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting rubrics.)
Don’t say I’m going to be “active”. Instead, define the exact activity, as in “I will run one mile.”
Be clear as to how long you will do this specific activity over what period of days, e.g.: “I will run one mile every day for 4 weeks.” You could further set time frameworks for how fast or slow you will do said activity if you wish.
The activity should be relevant to your personal goals and to your history. For example, if you’ve never run a mile in your life, don’t make that your streak. Bike to the corner store and back or do 45 jumping jacks every day for five days. Choose something that fits into your lifestyle and your fitness toolkit.
Choose a streak goal that will be an uplifting and fun energy boost, not a drag.
This one speaks for itself. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make a streak goal that’s reachable. Shorter is better. Need an easy option? Streak with these eight-minute home workouts from Elev8d Fitness, the new alignment-based fitness method from the experts at Sonima.
As in, the KISS principle (Keep It Silly, Stupid). Have fun! Be kid-like and make your goal streak-worthy. If it’s fun, then you’ll be happy to do it and will ultimately be a successful streaker.