Modern life is always busy, and finding time to do the things that we know are good for us can be hard. Whether you’re trying to stretch more regularly, starting a qigong practice or just doing some simple exercise, doing it consistently is the key to success. While we might be excited and committed to doing a healthy habit when it’s new, once the initial burst of enthusiasm has worn off, it can be challenging to remember to do it.
Here are four ways you can build these new movement habits into your day, even when you’re busy.
1. When you’re waiting for something
Examples: while the kettle is boiling, waiting for the toaster, cooking, waiting in line, starting up your computer.
These are all times where we might be wait around impatiently, or start doing another job. Often, we’ll fill these times by checking our phones. In fact, you might find that any moment where you decide to check your phone (whether for messages, to read the news, look at social media, or whatever) is probably a time you could be using more productively.
2. Habit stacking
Examples: while brushing your teeth, straight after you shower, each time you wash your hands.
This is where you do a new habit either while doing, or straight after another habit. You already have many habits that you do every day without fail, often multiple times a day. By simply adding another activity to an existing one, you’re much more likely to build the new habit. You may need to allow more time, but start with a very small commitment (one 30-second stretch, for example) and gradually add more.
3. Location-specific reminders
Examples: reaching up as you pass through a doorway, hamstring stretch as you go upstairs.
Here you’re using the environment as a trigger for doing a new activity. You’ll probably need some kind of sign as a reminder that you’ll see every time you’re there. These kinds of triggers work for a few days before they blend into the environment, so change up the sign every few days until the new habit is well established.
4. Changing an existing activity
Examples: floor-sitting to eat or watch tv, toilet squatting
Here you’re modifying an activity you already do so that it provides new benefits. You’ll often find that anything that has been designed for your convenience or comfort also reduces the amount of movement required from you. Often these kinds of changes are best made by changing your environment, for example you might place frequently used items on high shelves or in low cupboards to get you reaching up and squatting down.