5 Healthy Habits That Will Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals This Year

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Whether you’re one of the estimated 50 million Americans who decide to exercise more in the New Year, or someone who prioritizes fitness year round, there are many habits that help you stay on track and be most effective.

Healthy Habits-Oriented Woman With Green Smoothie Stopping Exercise to Tie Shoe | Vitacost.com/blog

If you’re looking for a fresh start in 2019, consider adding some new habits to your routine. Whether you want stay motivated or keep your active wear in better shape—if saving money is a resolution of yours, the latter will be an important one—these habits will get you there.

1. Define and remember your “why”

One of the reasons people bail on their resolution to get healthier, or can’t ever get into a consistent routine, is they don’t have a “why.” Without a true and emotionally connected reason for moving your body more, it’s easy to back off at the first sign of struggle.

When your fitness goals are tied to something that’s important in your life, you’re more likely to stick with it. This year, find your fitness “why.” Here are a few examples:

  • Stay healthy for your young and growing kids.
  • Train for a race that supports the foundation that saved your dad’s life.
  • Spend time with your sibling, who’s also making fitness a priority this year.

Once you have your, “why” the habit is to remember it; to bring it to mind every time you’d rather stay on the couch than lace up your shoes. The best way to do that: put reminders in places that you see all the time. Write it on a post-it note to keep next to your desk, hang on your fridge, or stick to your mirror.

2. Take better care of your active wear

Active wear is expensive, so if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to spend less money, this is an important area to focus on. The good news is: taking better care of your expensive yoga leggings and cute workout tops is easy. Just add these simple habits into your routine:

Let them dry: Don’t throw your sweaty workout clothes right into the hamper. Instead, let them dry first. Bacteria thrive in a damp, warm environment, which can lead to clothes that never lose their stink, suggests the Observer. Hang them to dry before tossing them in with the rest of your dirty items.

Wash with different detergent: This may be inconvenient, but it’s ultimately one of the best ways to take better care of your fitness clothes. Most are made with high-tech fabrics that require different care and laundry experts from CD One Price Cleaners share a simple tip for keeping them in great shape: “Pick out a mild and eco-friendly detergent that allows for a gentle wash and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals.” Get into a habit of doing small washes throughout the week with these items, rather than throwing them into your main load of laundry.

Read the label: In addition to needing gentler detergent, the same laundry experts suggest that your fitness clothes may need to be washed differently altogether. Their suggestion: simply read the label to make sure you’re following proper care instructions. 

3. Prepare healthy workout fuel ahead of time

The workout itself is one important aspect of fitness, but the other essential component is nutrition. In order to boost strength, endurance and muscle tone, you have to fuel your body with the proper nutrients before and after a workout.

To make this easier, prepare your pre- and post-workout fuel in advance. Instead of just a quick granola bar, which contains artificial sugar and processed additives, make healthy and portion-controlled snacks ahead of time. Look for healthy recipes that can be stored and eaten on-the-go with the perfect balance of protein and carbs.

4. Prioritize warm-up and cool-down stretches

After a long workout, the last thing you want to do is stretch, much less doing so before you get started—the goal is to get in and out. However, this part of your routine is crucial for activating the muscles before a workout and stimulating their recovery afterward.

A dynamic, low-impact stretch beforehand “primes the muscles to do their job more efficiently,” according to Aleisha Fetters, CSCS. She explains that this warms your muscles through chemical enzymes and oxygenated blood-flow, which produces the stamina needed for staying power and intensity. Make this a habit by setting aside five minutes for a brief warm-up walk on the treadmill. Better yet: walk or bike to the gym if you can.

The static cool-down is just as important because it lowers your heart rate back to normal, purges lactic acid from the body, and decreases the risk of a post-workout injury, says Jacqueline Crockford, ACE certified personal trainer. Make this part of your workout routine by avoiding these cool-down mistakes.

5. Track your results

If you don’t track your efforts, it’s harder to see all the progress you’ve made, which can keep you from sticking with it. If you feel like your workouts are having no effect, you’re more likely to walk away from your goals altogether.

The good news is that mobile workout and fitness trackers are easy to use and readily available, either for free or on a monthly subscription basis. What’s more, based on The Journal of Medical Internet Research, those who use mobile fitness trackers are more likely to remain active than people who don’t. 

Download an app that stores all your movement data and measures the progress in real-time. If you’re not sure which one to use, check out Healthline’s 2018 list of best fitness apps.