Make Exercise A Daily Habit: 7 Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

You must make exercise a daily habit. In fact, experts suggest you should exercise at least five days a week for life.

The issue is how to turn exercise into a joyful activity, like traveling on a holiday, that you look forward to every day.

The truth is, we hate exercising. So, we rely on motivation to drive us to exercise, which lasts only a few days. What works after that is a solid habit.

Even if you miss a few days, a habit will always get you back into the gym.

Download the free PDF of this article from the link at the end of this post (no email required).

So, here’s how you can create a consistent daily exercise routine, based on science.

How To Make Exercise A Daily Habit?

An exercise habit reduces our risk of early death.

However, one-fourth (25.3%) of Americans don’t do any physical activities. They don’t engage in exercises like running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking, according to CDC data.


Here are the 10 proven strategies to make exercise a daily habit:

1. Write: Commit To Yourself In Written Words.

It’s not that we can’t exercise; we can. The real challenge is making it a regular habit so that we can reap long-term health benefits. So, how can you break over this mental barrier?

Writing down your commitment to exercise is a powerful way to increase your chances of success.

Research shows that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them (Matthews, Gail, “The Impact of Commitment, Accountability, and Written Goals on Goal Achievement,” 2007).

Here is a simple strategy for making exercise a daily habit:

  1. Every night, write down your exercise plan for the next day. Be specific about the type of exercise you will do, the duration of your workout, and the time of day you will exercise.
  2. Share your exercise plan with a friend or family member. This will help you stay accountable and motivated.
  3. Set an alarm for the next morning to remind you to exercise.
  4. After your workout, write down in your diary whether you completed your exercise plan or not. This will help you track your progress and identify any areas where you need to improve.

Here is an example of a written exercise commitment:

Date: 2023-09-24

Exercise plan:

  • 8:00-8:15 AM: Jogging
  • 8:15-8:30 AM: Freehand exercises
  • 8:30-8:45 AM: Walk home

Accountability partner: [Partner’s name]


  • I felt great after my workout today!
  • I’m going to try to add a few more minutes of jogging to my workout tomorrow.
How to Build a Gym Habit - Psychological Tricks to Get Motivated

2. Friend: Get A Workout Buddy or Join A Fitness Group.

Working out with a friend or joining a fitness group is a great way to make your fitness routine stick. When you exercise with others, you’re more likely to stay accountable and motivated.

Here are some of the benefits of working out with others:

  • Accountability: When you make a commitment to exercise with someone else, you’re less likely to skip your workouts.
  • Motivation: Seeing others working hard can motivate you to push yourself harder.
  • Support: Having a workout buddy or being part of a fitness group can provide you with support and encouragement.
  • Fun: Exercising with others can be more fun than exercising alone. Group walks in nature can reduce depression, as well as be an excellent stress reducer.

If you’re looking for a workout buddy, ask a friend, family member, or coworker to join you. You can also find workout buddies online or at your local gym.

If you’re interested in joining a fitness group, there are many different types to choose from, such as running clubs, yoga classes, and CrossFit gyms.

Here are some tips for finding a workout buddy or fitness group:

  • Look for someone with similar fitness goals and interests.
  • Find someone who is reliable and committed to working out.
  • Make sure you have fun working out with them!

If you’re having trouble finding a workout buddy or fitness group, you can still make exercise a habit by working out alone.

Here are a few tips to stay motivated and accountable:

  • Set realistic goals.
  • Track your progress.
  • Find activities you enjoy.
  • Reward yourself for your accomplishments.

For example, if you can’t find a workout partner, make a No-Contact Distance-Buddy.

Do this: Pick someone you see jogging every day. Make a deal that you will jog today so that you can beat them in a month. This can motivate you to beat them.

3. Goal: Set “Towards-Goals” or Approach Goals.

  • Approach goals help us move toward desired outcomes. They focus on gaining something positive, such as increasing stamina, looking more youthful, or getting fitter.
  • Avoidance goals help us move away from undesired outcomes. They focus on moving away from something negative, such as decreasing tiredness, appearing less haggard, or being less sedentary.

Approach goals are more effective than avoidance goals (Mann, de Ridder, Fujita, 2013).

This is because approach goals are associated with greater positive emotions, thoughts, and self-evaluations and greater psychological well-being (Coats & Janoff-Bulman, 1996). They are more motivating, inspiring, and goal-oriented.

Here are some tips for setting approach goals:

  • Be specific about what you want to achieve.
  • Make sure your goal is realistic and achievable.
  • Set a deadline for achieving your goal.
  • Break your goal down into smaller, more manageable steps.
  • Track your progress and celebrate your successes.

Here are some examples of approach goals:

  • Increase my stamina by being able to run for 30 minutes without stopping.
  • Look more youthful by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Get fitter by lifting weights 3 times per week.
  • Reach my goal weight of 115 pounds (ca. 52 kg) by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

By setting approach goals, you can increase your chances of success and achieve your fitness goals.

To set such effective goals, take a look at these 3 Goal-Setting Techniques.

4. Plan: Plan And Decide Ahead Of Time (AOT).

Planning your workouts ahead of time (AOT) is a great way to stay focused and motivated. When you know what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it, you’re less likely to skip your workouts.

Here are some tips for creating an AOT plan:

  • Choose a variety of activities. This will help keep your workouts interesting and challenging.
  • Mix and match different types of workouts. For example, you could do a strength training workout on Monday, a cardio workout on Wednesday, and a yoga class on Friday.
  • Schedule your workouts in advance. Put them in your calendar or planner so you can’t forget.
  • Be flexible. Things happen, so don’t be afraid to adjust your plan if needed.

Here is an example of an AOT plan:

Monday: Strength training

Wednesday: Cardio

Friday: Yoga

Saturday: Rest and meditation

Sunday: Active recovery (e.g., going for a walk or bike ride)

You can adjust this plan to fit your own fitness goals and schedule. For example, if you have more time on the weekends, you could do longer workouts or add in more variety.

Here are some additional tips for making your AOT plan work:

  • Listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired, take a day off or do a lighter workout.
  • Don’t be afraid to change your plan. If you’re not enjoying a particular workout, try something else.
  • Find a workout buddy. Having someone to work out with can help you stay motivated.

By planning your workouts ahead of time, you can make exercise a regular part of your life and achieve your fitness goals.

5. Start: Make Small Chunks And Start Slow.

When you’re first starting out, make your workout goals as small as possible. This will help you avoid getting overwhelmed and discouraged.

Here are a few tips for getting started:

  • Start with just 5-10 minutes of exercise per day.
  • Break your workouts down into smaller chunks. For example, you could do 5 minutes of walking in the morning, 5 minutes of strength training at lunchtime, and 5 minutes of yoga before bed.
  • Focus on one body part or muscle group per day.
  • Choose activities that you enjoy.

As you get stronger and more motivated, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts.

Here are some examples of small chunks of exercise that you can do throughout the day:

  • Take a walk around the block.
  • Do a few push-ups and sit-ups.
  • Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
  • Park further away from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
  • Do some stretching or yoga.

Even a small amount of exercise is better than none. So start today in a small way and gradually increase your activity level over time.

Make sure you find activities that you enjoy and that you can stick with. If your workouts are too difficult or long, you’re more likely to give up. So start small and gradually increase your activity level.

Find a person who can’t fit three 1-minute bursts of activity in a day and you’ve found the world’s laziest dodo.

Dodo in park
The Laziest Dodo, Gondova Park.

A word of caution: Some people may have difficulty with certain exercises, even if they are simple. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

6. Energy: Choose Your High-Energy Times.

For most of us, our high-energy times are the mornings.

However, this can vary from person to person. Pay attention to when you feel most alert, active, and sharp during the day. These are the best times to schedule your workouts.

Also, note that your chances of exercising are highest when you’re in a neutral mood. Avoid scheduling workouts when you’re feeling too happy or too sad.

Research has shown that morning workouts are more effective for weight management than evening workouts.

A 2023 study by Tongyu and Bennett found that overweight and obese men who did a 30-minute moderate-intensity cardio workout three times a week lost more weight and had lower body fat after six weeks if they worked out in the morning.

The researchers believe that morning workouts increase metabolism (by increasing levels of norepinephrine) and reduce appetite (by reducing levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin).

Here are some tips for making morning workouts work for you:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This will help regulate your sleep-wake cycle and make it easier to get out of bed in the morning.
  • Get some sunlight exposure as soon as you wake up. This will help boost your energy levels and alertness.
  • Eat a light breakfast before your workout. This will give you the energy you need to power through your workout without feeling too full.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout.
  • Start your workout slowly and gradually increase the intensity.
  • Listen to your body and take breaks when needed.
  • Reward yourself for completing your workout.

If you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, try setting your alarm for just 5 minutes earlier each day. Once you’ve been getting up at the same time for a week, try setting your alarm for 10 minutes earlier. Continue this process until you’re getting up at the time you want to start your workout.

Morning workouts can be a great way to start your day and achieve your fitness goals.

7. Easy: Find The Path of The Least Resistance.

Try the path of the least effort.

One of the best ways to make sure you don’t skip your workouts is to make them as easy as possible.

Use these tips to make exercise easier and more enjoyable, and reach your fitness goals:

  • Go to bed in your workout clothes. This way, you can roll out of bed and into your workout without any fuss.
  • Keep your workout gear in a convenient place. This could be by your bed, in your closet, or even in your car.
  • Set out your workout clothes and gear the night before. This will save you time in the morning and help you avoid any decision fatigue.
  • Plan your workout ahead of time. This will help you stay focused and motivated.
  • Choose activities that you enjoy. This will make it more likely that you’ll stick with your workout routine.

I especially liked the tip about going to bed in my workout clothes when I first came to know about it.

This is a great way to remove any barriers between you and your workout. When you wake up, you’re already halfway there!

8. Breaks: Fill In Occasional Breaks.

Even the most conscientious exercisers need to take breaks from time to time. There will be days when you’re not feeling up to working out, or when you have other commitments that take priority.

Remember that exercise is a journey, not a race. If you miss a day or two, it’s not the end of the world.

Be forgiving of yourself and do not link occasional breaks with shame or guilt. Simply pick up where you left off the next day.

In fact, scheduling occasional breaks into your fitness routine can be a good way to stay motivated and avoid burnout. It can also give your body time to rest and recover.

Here are a few tips for filling in occasional breaks in your fitness routine:

  • Plan your breaks ahead of time. This will help you avoid skipping workouts on impulse.
  • Schedule a day off every week or ten days. This will give your body time to rest and recover.
  • Listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired or sore, take a break. Don’t push yourself too hard.
  • Find other ways to be active. If you’re not feeling up to a hard workout, go for a walk, do some yoga, or play with your kids.

Of course, the most essential thing is to stay consistent with your exercise routine. But don’t be afraid to take breaks when needed.

9. Change: Alter Your Exercise Patterns.

There’s a song by King Prawn called Lick of the Flame which has these lines:

Mundane monotony is all you have to offer me.

Don’t let your workout become a mundane, routine activity that you end up dreading. Try changing it up. Here are a few ideas:

  • Change the environment. Exercise indoors or outdoors, depending on your preference.
  • Change the type of exercise. Alternate between aerobic and anaerobic exercises, or between light and strenuous exercises.
  • Change the equipment you use. Lift weights instead of doing freehand exercises, or vice versa.
  • Change the intensity of your workouts. Try vigorous workouts one day and slow workouts the next.
  • Try a new activity. Take a yoga class, go for a dance lesson, or try a new sport.

Changing up your workout routine can also help you challenge yourself and improve your fitness results.

10. Record: Log Your Achievements.

Write them into a diary or store them digitally for review from time to time. You could use a digital notepad for this.

William Arruda, the author of Digital You, says it in three simple words in his Forbes post The One Thing Successful People Do Every Day:

Document your wins.

10 Tips To Make Exercise Habit (Infographic)
How To Make Exercise A Daily Habit (Infographic)

7 Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

These 7 exercises are all low-impact and can be modified to make them easier or more difficult. They are perfect for people of all fitness levels and can be done anywhere, with no equipment needed.

1. Knee push-ups:

  • Start on your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart.
  • Place your palms flat on the ground and keep your back straight. You can place a mat, pillow, or towel under your knees to ease pressure.
  • Lower your body down until your chest touches the ground, then push back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.

2. Wall slides:

  • Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds, then slowly slide back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

3. Chair dips:

  • Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the ground and your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the chair.
  • Slide your body forward so that your butt is off the chair and your arms are straight.
  • Slowly lower your body down until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Push back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.

4. Shoulder taps:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Tap your right shoulder with your left hand, then your left shoulder with your right hand.
  • Continue tapping your shoulders back and forth as quickly as you can for 30-60 seconds.
Standing Shoulder Taps Tutorial

5. Wall sits:

  • Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
  • Slowly slide back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

6. Calf raises:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Raise your heels off the ground as high as you can.
  • Hold for a second, then lower back down.
  • Repeat 15-20 times.
Calf raises two legs

7. Dead bugs:

  • Lie on your back with your arms extended straight above you and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Extend your right arm back and your left leg forward at the same time.
  • Hold for a second, then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
  • Alternate sides for 10-15 repetitions.

10 Quick Tips To An Exercise Habit

These tips come from the Harvard School of Public Health:

  1. Break up your workout into pieces — exercise for 10 minutes three times a day.
  2. Find a companion to exercise with — let a workout buddy keep up your motivation.
  3. Keep your short walks brisk — whenever you have to walk through your day, walk briskly.
  4. Get some exercise before your meals — go through a light exercise, like a walk, before lunch.
  5. Record and check your daily step count — track your steps on a smartwatch; review on weekends.
  6. Turn off the television, laptop, and phone — cut back on your screen time and use the time for walking or jogging.
  7. Don’t sit in your chair for too long — set reminders to do some sitting exercises, or get up and walk around.
  8. Join a coaching class for a novel type of exercise — join a Zumba or yoga or dance class close to your home.
  9. Fix times to exercise intermittently in the day — set alarms in your daily planner to remind you to go for a walk.
  10. Give yourself rewards — reward yourself with a fun thing after reaching a goal, like 7 continuous days of exercise.

7 Effective Hacks To Make Exercise A Habit

We’ve all experienced how, after the first kick of motivation, discipline goes for a toss. A single day of break turns into a week. Soon, in less than a week, you end up where you started — point zero — looking for motivation again.

So, don’t wait for inspiration. Instead, employ the following seven hacks to make your exercise routine stick.

  • 1. Exercise first thing in the morning before your energy levels lower and willpower depletes. Find an exercise buddy who is actively into a healthy routine — you will both motivate each other.
  • 2. Do an exercise you have fun doing, such as dancing. Buy some good-looking exercise wear that makes you feel great. Outdoor activities leave you feeling more refreshed and less tense than indoor activities. A moderate-intensity workout is more beneficial than a high or low-intensity workout.
  • 3. Piggyback your exercise routine to another daily habit. Do not let yourself do an activity you have been doing all your life — such as brushing your teeth — unless you have had your morning exercise. Another way is to set an alarm to remind you to exercise 15 minutes before having your breakfast.
  • 4. Keep it simple, like getting out of bed and finding all your workout gear ready at hand. The night before, remember to keep your exercise gear ready at hand — shoes, clothes, exercise-cycle.
  • 5. Sleep and wake up with a positive affirmation about exercising daily. Remind yourself that daily exercise is the best means available to us today for delaying and preventing the effects of aging.
  • 6. Stick notes all over the house — on the fridge door and bathroom mirror — and tell everyone at home to push you. Take pictures of yourself exercising, and post them on your social media.
  • 7. When you don’t feel like it, tell yourself you’ll only do it for 2 minutes, and get down to doing it straightaway. Doing some exercise is better than doing none. It maintains the chain. So, engage in any physical activity to improve your health.

Why Is It Difficult To Make Exercise A Daily Habit?

The main reason it’s hard to make exercise a daily habit is that we dislike working out. And we find it difficult to break old patterns and replace them with new ones.

Old habits die hard. We are creatures of habit, and it can be difficult to break old patterns and establish new ones. Exercise is a new habit that requires time and effort to implement. It is easier to sit around and do nothing than to get up and move.

Time is too precious to spend on exercise. Creating a new habit requires time. We need to find time in our busy schedules to exercise regularly. This can be challenging, especially if we have other commitments, such as work, family, and social obligations.

Knowledge doesn’t guarantee execution. We may know the benefits of exercise, but we don’t always act on that knowledge. We may be too lazy to exercise, or we may find excuses not to do it. Remember, actions speak louder than words. We need to bridge the gap between knowledge and action.

Facts don’t get us to act. We’re great advisers, but poor doers.

Setting unrealistic goals. If we set our sights too high, we are more likely to get discouraged and give up. It is better to start with small, achievable goals, such as exercising for 20 minutes three times a week. As we get stronger and more motivated, we can gradually increase the duration and intensity of our workouts.

Starting something we don’t enjoy. If we don’t enjoy our exercise routine, we are less likely to stick with it. It is important to find activities that we find fun and challenging. There are many different types of exercise, so there is sure to be something that everyone enjoys.

It’s really the follow-through that falls through.

With Time, Exercise Becomes a Permanent Habit

How Long Does It Take To Make Exercise A Sticky Habit?

Researchers disagree on how long it takes to form a new exercise habit, with estimates ranging from 21 to 66 days.

• 21 Days

In Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz wrote, “Many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”

• 49 Days

Ryan Brooks combined Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit and the X Effect Method to reach the figure of 49 days. He says, “So, once you have completed 49 days straight with little slip-ups, you can be sure to have developed a positive habit, or broken a bad habit.”

Make exercise a habit by using a paper calendar or palnner
X Effect Method to make or break a habit, using a paper calendar or planner

• 66 Days

Phillippa Lally, a researcher in health psychology at University College London, carried out a study in 2009 that said it takes a little more than 2 months or 66 days for a new habit to take root.


  1. Why do you fail to stick to an exercise routine?

    Because you cannot seem to turn it into a daily habit. But, to reap maximum benefits from exercise, you have to make it an automatic habit. Your body hates to work out. Exercise pushes you out of your comfort zone. So, you miss the gym the day after a break. That one day turns into a week. And soon you abandon your fitness routine.

  2. How often should you exercise every day?

    At least three institutes — the NHLBI, the ACSM, and the CDC — recommend moderate-intensity physical exercise for at least 30 minutes each day, five days per week. They also recommend that every adult use this 30-minute x 5-day guideline as their long-term exercise goal. Heed their advice for a healthy life.

    [NHLBI = National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; ACSM = American College of Sports Medicine; CDC = Center For Disease Control]

  3. Is it OK to exercise every day?

    A day of rest once a week is often recommended in a typical adult’s workout routine. The NHLBI, ACSM, and CDC all recommend two days of rest per week. Exercising every day is fine as long as you are not exhausting yourself, injuring yourself, or becoming obsessed with it.

    [NHLBI = National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; ACSM = American College of Sports Medicine; CDC = Center For Disease Control]

  4. What are some shortcuts to building a new habit?

    Here are 3 shortcuts to form a new habit:
    1. First make time for it and then train yourself on a consistent schedule, come rain or shine. You have to show up regularly until it becomes an unalterable part of your day.
    2. Give yourself a reward each time you stay on your schedule. This is a scientifically proven strategy to reinforce a new behavior into a habit.
    3. Replace a bad habit with another similar behavior, which is somewhat different but better. Then keep repeating it until it sticks. For any kind of success, persistence outperforms motivation every time.

Final Words

I hope this helps you build and keep up a daily fitness routine. Download the PDF: How To Make Exercise A Daily Habit (PDF).

Finally, I want to say that an exercise routine is the best way to live a long and healthy life.

  • A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that people who exercised for 2.5 hours per week were 57% less likely to die early than those who did not exercise.
  • A study by the UK Biobank found that 150 to 300 minutes of moderate or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week was associated with a lower risk of heart failure (HF), regardless of clinical and lifestyle factors.
  • This 2018 study found that “maximum association with lower mortality was achieved by performing ≈150 to 300 min/wk of long-term leisure-time vigorous physical activity, 300 to 600 min/wk of long-term leisure-time moderate physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both.”

Here are three takeaways:

  1. Start small. Don’t try to change too much too soon. Start with a small goal, such as exercising for 20 minutes three times a week. Once you have achieved that goal, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts.
  2. Make it easy. Make it as easy as possible for yourself to exercise. For example, put your workout clothes out the night before so you can easily get dressed in the morning. Or, find a workout buddy who can help you stay motivated.
  3. Be patient. It takes time to form a new habit. Don’t get discouraged if you slip up occasionally. Just pick yourself up and keep going.

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Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher.

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