Last October, I made the decision to run every single day for 137 days in a row. While it was far from a Guinness record, that, for me, was a serious challenge given that I've had a life-long disgust (but secret love of) running.
While running every day through the Canadian winter seemed like a daunting task, I discovered that actually getting it done wasn't as painful as I thought. By the end of the 137 days, I actually grew pretty bored with running and found little challenge in it.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, making the decision to do something every day is easier than taking a low-frequency approach. Conventional wisdom is to start out aiming for two or three workouts per week, as it's believed to be a safe, attainable goal, and therefore easier to achieve.
Additionally, a few hard training sessions should be enough weekly exercise to produce the kind of results most people are looking for.
So why do any more?
I don't have time (or so I think)
The number one thing that holds people back from consistent exercise is time, or rather, their perception that there's not enough of it.
Something happens at work...something happens with the kids...something just always happens--and training takes a back seat. No big deal though, they can just make it up tomorrow and get their three sessions in for the week.
In theory, there's nothing wrong with this. Like I mentioned, having a light goal of a few workouts per week takes the pressure off and makes things more approachable by allowing for a little wiggle room.
But here's the thing: People need pressure on the gas.
These people need to feel the heat and struggle a bit with finding time to train, because the truth is, this is the only way to discover that most days--regardless of what happens--the time is there.
The belief that things are always going to be smooth sailing is part of what got them in trouble in the first place. The moment that "life gets crazy" they give up and push their workout back a day. The once iron-clad promise to "get back into it" becomes a flimsy commitment that is easily broken. What starts as one day missed day turns to two, and then three, and then it's a crazy week, month, and finally "this just isn't a good time in my life."
Trust me, I've seen it happen countless times.
So here's the reason why choosing to exercise seven days per week is actually easier: You don't have to decide if you're going to work out, only when you're going to work out.
The fewer decisions and less analysis you have to make, the better. By adopting this approach, you don't have to play the mental game of "is it in the cards today?" You just have to figure out when it's going to happen.
Another problem is that people don't adjust their standards of what a workout is.
It doesn't have to be an hour, and it doesn't even have to be in the gym. But you're not getting out of exercising for the day. You're going to have to find 10 or 15 minutes to move around and get your heart rate up.
It's important to realize the difference between adopting the habit of exercise, and using exercise as a tool to get a specific result. My 137-day challenge was all about getting over my resistance to running, and establish it as a part of my daily routine. I didn't track volume or distance, I didn't care how fast I ran--it was purely about the daily practice and ingraining the habit.
Once the habit is in place, that's when the real magic can happen.