While life since March has been pretty far from ideal (how’s that for an understatement), you might have noticed one silver lining to things. Without days spent commuting to work, driving your kids to 1,000 different extracurriculars, or squeezing in dinners out with friends, there was all of a sudden way more time to spend on healthy habits like exercising and cooking meals. This was definitely true during the early days: Our data showed 42 percent of Fitbit users were logging more active minutes, aka exercise, this April compared to a year earlier.
But as life starts to inch its way back to normal, you might worry about those healthy habits going by the wayside. And with good reason: These days, most Fitbit users’ active minutes have returned to normal levels. Eager to hold on to those good-for-you behaviors you adopted while staying at home? Here’s how to make sure they stay a part of your life for years to come:
Keep as much as you can constant. While there are things you want to have change about your life (getting to see friends and family more, for one!), make sure to keep the specifics surrounding your workouts or cooking routine as similar as possible.
Research shows doing that can help keep habits going strong. If you ran right after waking up during lockdown, try to keep doing it at that same time and follow the same route. If you would always meet up with a friend for your daily walks, keep meeting up with that same friend. “This way, even though the circumstances have changed, the specifics around your working out is somewhat stable and constant,” says Wendy Wood, a provost professor of psychology and business at University of Southern California.
Make it easy on yourself. The more complicated or time-consuming it is to do something healthy, the less likely you are to keep at it when life gets hectic again. Get around this with a few simplifying tricks. “Make extra any time you cook so you can have leftovers the next day,” says Joan Salge Blake, RDN, clinical professor at Boston University and author of Nutrition & You. “And spend less time in the kitchen by using your crockpot and relying on frozen vegetables that are already cleaned and chopped!”
This make-it-easy approach works for exercise too. “Set out your workout clothes and shoes the night before if you want to exercise in the morning,” says Wood. They sound small, but these little actions can make a big difference to motivation.
Focus on how good your healthy habits make you feel. Have you loved how energized your morning walks have made you? Do you feel great after cooking a veggie-filled meal from scratch? Noticing those positive effects can make sticking with habits down the road a lot easier. “This is the time to take stock of what has been feeling good,” says Julie Emmerman, a sport, performance, and clinical psychotherapist specializing in professional athletes. “If you stay mindful as things get busier again, it naturally lends itself to wanting to keep committed to those behaviors.”
This is something Blake encourages as well. “Sit down and make a list about why you might be happier now,” she says. Is it prioritizing family dinners? A morning yoga routine? Identifying exactly what’s making you feel good will help you know what to prioritize as life revs up again.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.