Public health researchers at Johns Hopkins discovered that when people add an exercise habit in on Monday, they are more likely to continue it throughout the whole week than on other days, making it the best day of the week to add a new habit to your routine.
The American Heart Association suggests “moving more” by tracking steps and aiming for 10,000 steps a dayor participating in the “Monday Mile” of adding 1 mile cardio—usually jogging—to your day each Monday, and seeing if you can do it for the rest of the week. The goal of this Monday Mile and of the entire Move More Month holiday is to integrate exercise into a weekly schedule as a regular habit so that it becomes automatic.
The Monday Mile can also be adapted for people who are already regular exercises. For example, joggers can introduce faster paced running for 1 mile and still participate. The most important thing is to take the opportunity to layer in a new exercise habit to your daily life that you weren’t doing before.
The Monday Mile
Starting out by adding just 1 mile of cardio to your Monday can help set you on the path of a great new habit that will increase longevity and slash your risk of chronic disease. Activities you can perform as your Monday Mile—which will hopefully carry over to other days of the week too—can be anything from running, swimming, pick-up sports, or even cycling to work. Anything that gets the heart pumping counts!
Some communities are celebrating the Monday Mile as a group jog—so check to see if someone in your area has organized one or consider organizing one yourself with resources from here.
1 mile of exercise such as jogging can quickly lead to enough endurance to go longer or to strengthening the muscles to pick up speed. But it’s often the habit formation of that first mile that’s the toughest hurdle to overcome when introducing more exercise into your life. Most people new to exercise can run a mile in about 20 minutes, making it a time-efficient change as well.
Exercise As A Habit
Similar to meatless Monday, the Move More challenge involves making a new health decision for just one day that can be carried over onto other days if you like it.
Research shows early habit formation is often the bedrock of successful life-long exercise. The stronger the beginning exercise habit, the more likely a regular exercise pattern will continue. This is a big part of why “Move More Month” focuses on creating the motivation to develop exercise into the day as a habit that can carry over into the rest of life.
Johns Hopkins also recommends approaching exercise as a habit and thinking of it as a good health habit to replace a bad health habit. For example, if you watch TV after dinner, try going on a walk instead. This way you eliminate a poor habit more easily by replacing it with a new more positive routine.
Move More Month For People Who Are Already Active
While the focus of the celebration was originally on the 77% of Americans who don’t meet federal guidelines for weekly exercise of 150 minutes moderate-intensity cardio per week, Move More Month is also absolutely about people who are already health-conscious.
One thing people who are getting enough cardio can add into a workout schedule instead of the Monday Mile is weekly strength training. Thinking of Mondays as a day to add some resistance work to your routine can get you building muscle that will help with your cardio sports and overall fitness later in the week.
The best way to celebrate Move More Month for someone who is already living a healthy lifestyle is to increase the intensity of your workouts.
For more tips on how to raise your workout intensity, check out our HIIT quiz here or read our article on high-intensity workout routines. So how will you celebrate Move More Month this April? Whether by taking the Monday Mile challenge with a group or simply adding your own cardio or strength training, April is a great month to get moving.