Your Guide to Creating a Sustainable Exercise Routine and Sticking to it

 In Exercise During Pregnancy

Isn’t it frustrating when we start the New Year off with wonderful health and wellness goals, only to find ourselves losing motivation after a couple of weeks? If this sounds like you, then you’re not alone. But have you ever paused to ponder why we have trouble sticking to exercise routines? The answer in one simple word is: habits.

Scientists estimate that approximately 95% of our thoughts and actions are dictated by our pre-existing habits and routines (Gustafson, 2017). Therefore, if we want to remain consistent with a new exercise routine throughout the year, we need to know how to effectively establish and maintain habits.

We’re sharing our top tips and tricks for creating a sustainable exercise routine that will help you to feel more energised, confident, and strong in 2024.



Goal Setting

The first step is to create an individualised and meaningful goal for yourself. This can serve as a compass to help direct your actions and keep you on track. Setting SMART goals is proven to be an effective framework for results-oriented action (Ogbeiwi, 2017). The SMART acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

An example of a SMART goal could be ‘I will run 5 kilometres without stopping by the 31st of March 2024’.

To increase our chances of success, we can combine this approach with the research on high-low range goals, which denotes that we are more likely to achieve a goal that focuses on a range, rather than a single number (Scott & Nowlis, 2013).

Using the previous example, the final goal could be ‘I will run 4-7 kilometres without stopping by the 31st of March 2024’.

Developing a Plan

Now that we’ve set our SMART goal, next we need a plan that will help us work towards it. Don’t overcomplicate things; start simple and adjust as you go. The key here is to start small to help you gain momentum and consistency (Fogg, 2019).

An example of this could be committing to 15 minutes of running/walking 3 days each week.

Reducing Friction

Reducing friction is a tried and tested tool that can help us stick to newly established habits. The amount of friction between us and a behaviour is directly related to how likely we are to perform this behaviour consistently (Clear, 2018). Therefore, the more we can reduce any friction, the better.

For example, we could sign up to a gym that’s less than 5 minutes from home, lay our exercise clothes out the night before, or even sleep in them.

 Habit Stacking

One of the best ways to stick a new exercise routine is to stack it with a current habit that you already do each day (Clear, 2018). Habit stacking is like piggybacking a new behaviour to an existing behaviour. This will usually follow the format of ‘after/before I do X, I will do Y.’

For example, ‘after I arrive home from work, I will immediately change into my exercise clothes’. By using habit stacking, the chance of us sticking to a new exercise routine is greatly enhanced.

Overcoming Setbacks

Undoubtedly, we will all encounter some setbacks when establishing a new exercise routine. But it’s important not to let roadblocks get you down. Instead, try to adopt a growth mindset and see these setbacks for what they are; challenges that you can work through and grow from. Once you’ve identified the source of the setback, develop a plan to work around it next time and try your best to stick to this plan. The most important thing is not to let setbacks completely derail all your hard work and progress.


We hope that this guide is helpful in assisting you with setting up and establishing your version of a sustainable exercise routine. At Flex, our Clinical Strength and Clinical Pilates services are great options for supervised exercise sessions.

If you would like to find out more about our services, please feel free to contact us on (03) 9670 7041 or info@flexphysio.com.au and our friendly team will happily assist you.


Written by Physiotherapist, Irwin Kim



Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: An easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. Penguin.

Fogg, B. J. (2019). Tiny habits: The small changes that change everything. Eamon Dolan Books.

Gustafson, C. (2017). Bruce Lipton, PhD: The jump from cell culture to consciousness. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal16(6), 44.

Ogbeiwi, O. (2017). Why written objectives need to be really SMART. British Journal of Healthcare Management, 23(7), 324-336. doi:10.12968/bjhc.2017.23.7.324

Scott, M. L., & Nowlis, S. M. (2013). The effect of goal specificity on consumer goal reengagement. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(3), 444-459.

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