A mom practicing her postpartum workout routine with toddler sitting nearby.

What will it take to turn your postpartum exercise routine into a habit that sticks?

Short answer? Commitment and repetition.

It’s a myth that it takes 21 days, or 30 days or how ever many days to build a habit.

Science doesn’t have a lot to say on the subject.

What it does say, is that it takes between 18 and 254 days for an action to become automatic (1). And that’s if you’re doing it DAILY. And the more complicated the behavior, the longer it takes to habituate it.

What does that mean?

It does take time. It does take commitment. And most importantly, it takes repetition.

If that sounds daunting, consider this: we often make it harder than it needs to be.

Try this: Keep it simple.

Start small, commit to a realistic schedule and practice consistency over perfection.

1. Start small.

Commit to an exercise session you can confidently achieve 80% of the time. Is that 5 minutes? 30 minutes? It DOES NOT need to be an hour. No matter how small the action, if you are achieving it consistently, it will become habit that you can GROW over time. If try to build a habit around an unrealistic goal, you’ll quickly become discouraged and lose motivation.

2. Repeat it.

Habits form based on frequency. It’s not enough to exercise once a month. Or even once a week. If you want exercise to become an ingrained part of your life, you need to practice it frequently. What’s realistic? 2 times a week? 3 times a week? 4? What could you realistically do 80% of the time?

3. Choose consistency over perfection.

James Clear (the Atomic Habits guy) says, “You have to standardize before you can optimize.” You can’t improve on a habit that doesn’t exist yet. Try not to sweat the tough days. The missed days. The half-assed days. Just show up and keep doing the thing, because health and fitness is a long game. Pick your habit. Repeat it regularly. Commit to showing up consistently over time.

Know what else helps? Having a plan.

If you’re postpartum and looking for a PLAN to groove your return to exercise, check out Stronger Postpartum. I’m currently seeking workout testers for my new postpartum return-to-exercise program.

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to follow the link and make a purchase.

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Redmond, WA-based Seattle birth doula Laura Jawad, headshot

My mission is to make sure that having a baby is not a reason why you can’t do all the things.

Contact me with questions about exercise or pelvic health pertaining to pregnancy or postpartum. I offer customized, online pregnancy and postpartum personal training to folks locally (Seattle-area, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland) and beyond.

Proud Certified Prenatal & Postnatal Coach, Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach and Postnatal Fitnesses Specialist.

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