Habit forming

I have been keeping quiet about this, but now feels like the right time to mention that we are currently almost half way through the 2014 5×50 challenge. For the uninitiated, the 5×50 challenge asks participants to complete 5km (or 30 minutes of an alternative activity) every day for 50 days. In 2012 this was the 50 days leading up to the end of British Summer Time. Last year they made the sensible decision to switch to it being the 50 days from the start of BST.

The reason for my reticence is that last year I crashed out of the challenge with injury only a couple of weeks into the 50 days. Having made a bit of a song and dance about how I was looking forward to the 5×50, I then felt a bit sheepish when I didn’t manage to complete it. So this year, unless you’ve noticed the occasional tweet from me about it, I have not been too vocal about the challenge.

Today, day 23 of the challenge, is the day that I choose to break my silence. But why?

Not only is it almost half way through, which is a watershed in its own right, but it also means that we have passed the ‘habit forming’ stage of the challenge. According to research (and, more pertinently, this blog on the 5×50 website) repeating something for 21 days or more turns it into a habit. By getting people out and about and being active every day for three weeks, this challenge is hoping to reinforce exercise habits into all of the participants; habits that will last long after the 50 days are over.

For me, it has meant a few more trips to the swimming pool than usual, a few more evening runs than usual and a few journeys that have been thought through in a slightly different way. For example, over this Easter bank holiday weekend, Mrs RB and I took the opportunity to park half way along a beach and walk to the cafe at the end and back again, clocking up just over 5km in the process, rather than driving all the way to the car park next to the cafe. And on Saturday, on our way to Totnes for the Bay Horse Easter beer festival, we hopped off the bus 5km before Totnes and had a great walk the rest of the way in the sunshine, through fields and alongside the river. So far, it has been these small changes that have allowed me to slip these extra 5kms (or 30 minutes) into my day.

And after 23 days, it just might have become a habit.

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3 thoughts on “Habit forming

    • Thank you. I think 21 days is a pretty good number; if you can stick at something for that long then you have a fair chance at not giving up. You’ve proven to yourself that you can manage to do whatever it is for three weeks and that builds a confidence that you can keep doing it. I think there’s more to it than just that though, I think there also has to be an underlying desire to keep going with whatever it is.

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