Thursday, June 19, 2014

When does a routine become a habit?

As an athlete, taking some time off from your sport is an essential part of the training process. After a long season your body needs time to recover. Getting away from your sport for a while also helps rejuvenate that passion and fire to compete and train again. When you return to training, the first few weeks can be difficult, but getting back to a routine will ensure that you reinitiate the good habits developed during your prior training.

Creating good habits such as exercising regularly or eating a well-balanced diet is something we should all strive to do; these habits lead to a healthier lifestyle. According to the health belief model, people who believe that certain behaviors are healthy are more likely to engage in healthy behaviour. 
How are habits formed?

When we take on a new task, our brains begin working hard trying to process this new information. As we begin to grasp these new tasks, the behavior starts to become automatic and the brainpower required to accomplish the given task decreases. For example, the first time you rode a bike was probably a difficult process, but with repetition it became easier. Nowadays, you likely get on a bike without giving it too much thought.

Creating a healthy routine of exercising on a regular basis can help make it a habitual part of your life. If your goal is to lose weight and maintain a good body weight, developing a plan can help you get started.

Developing a plan:
  • Create goals that are realistic and achievable 
  • Seek friends, family, etc., who are looking to accomplish similar goals. They will hold you accountable and be your support network 
  • Keep a training log so you can keep track of your improvements 
  • Do not be discouraged if you veer off course. Setbacks will happen, just pick up where you left off. 
Athletes who are starting up after the off-season usually develop a plan to help them get back into shape. This plan becomes a routine, and as they get more fit this routine becomes a habit. The first step is to start with a fixed program. As fitness improves, this program or routine becomes automatic behavior and a habitual component in training towards success.

References Available from the SIRC Collection:

1. Anshel M. A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach for Promoting Exercise Behavior: The Disconnected Values Model. Journal Of Sport Behavior. June 2013;36(2):107-129.
2. Burns B. ACCESSIBLE GOLF. When Routine Becomes First Nature. Palaestra. March 2012;26(2):58-59.
3. Creatures of Habit: Is Habit Formation Related to Exercise Behavior?. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology. December 2013;35(6):665.
4. Lanza M. 25 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE HIKERS. Backpacker. August 2008;36(6):121-126.
5. Verhoeven A, Adriaanse M, Evers C, de Ridder D. The power of habits: Unhealthy snacking behaviour is primarily predicted by habit strength. British Journal Of Health Psychology. November 2012;17(4):758-770.
6. Yazel L. In a rut? break your ROUTINE!. Shape. October 2002;22(2):43.

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