How to make exercise habits 'stick' in the new year

It’s the start of the new year, and we all generally start out with good intentions of keeping our resolutions, which often include diet and exercise.  We have a lot of enthusiasm at the beginning, but it begins to wane over time.  Here are some tips to help you stick your fitness goals by leveraging the power of Behavioural Economics.

1.     Set goals / Commit 

Behavioural Economics tells us that people perform better when they set clearly defined goals, write them down, and even share them with others.  There’s no particular number of days it takes to build a habit, but repetition is key.  It helps when you make it social or competitive by sharing updates with friends through a variety of social media outlets or apps that are now readily available. Even better, have a friend that you regularly exercise with; they will help hold you accountable! 

Make sure your goals are realistic though and cut yourself some slack if you fall short of your original expectations.  If you’re too strict, you may become victim to the What-the-hell effect, which is a rapid downward spiral for individuals who think, “Well, I’ve already missed the gym twice, why bother going at all this week?”  To this point, being flexible with you exercise times can also help you overcome this bias.

2.     Bundling 

While traditionally we think of bundling services and products as a way to make consumers feel like they are getting more value; in this scenario, consider Temptation Bundling. Combine something you crave or love (watching your favourite TV show, listening to music, etc.) with something that’s healthy for you! Only allow yourself to indulge in this activity while your exercising.   

2.     Loss Aversion

We all know that money is a big motivator and the idea of Loss Aversion suggests that a loss is more painful than an equivalent gain.  Set up a commitment device (check out, which is a sort of contract with yourself. This enables you to give money to specific person or charity if you fail to meet your commitments.  To make this tool even more powerful, consider setting up your commitment device to donate to an organisation that you don’t like! 

How do we drive loyalty to our brands?  How do we ensure that patients adhere to treatment? Behavioural Economics offers us a multitude of options to achieve these goals, we need only think outside of the box!   

BlogAndrew DeLeeuwComment