top of page

Forming Healthy Habits: The Science Behind Habit Formation

woman over 40 deadlifting

Habit formation is a topic that impacts every aspect of our lives, from our fitness routines to our dietary choices. How habits are formed, and how long it takes to establish them, is a question that has intrigued scientists and self-improvement enthusiasts for years. In this blog post, we delve into the science of habit formation to complement our latest episode of Fit For Life Radio, where we challenge the 21-day habit myth and explore the real timeline for forming lasting habits.

🎧Listen to the Podcast Episode [here]

Debunking the 21-Day Habit Myth

You've likely heard the popular belief that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. This myth has persisted for decades, but what does the scientific research say? As we discussed in our recent episode, the 21-day rule is more fiction than fact. In reality, habit formation is a complex process that varies from person to person and depends on the nature of the habit itself.

The Science Behind Habit Formation

To gain a deeper understanding of habit formation, we turn to the research of behavior change scientist Katy Milkman, PhD. Her study examined two very different habits: going to the gym and hand-washing by healthcare workers. While these behaviors may seem unrelated, they both offer critical insights into the formation of habits.

The Gym Habit vs. Hand-Washing Habit

What's the difference in the time it takes to establish a habit of going to the gym compared to the habit of hand-washing? The results may surprise you. On average, it took participants just two weeks to develop a habit of hand-washing, a vital practice for health and safety. On the other hand, forming the habit of going to the gym required much more time, with an average of four to seven months. But why?

The Complexity and Frequency of Behaviors

The complexity and frequency of behaviors play a significant role in habit formation. Going to the gym is typically a less frequent, more complex, and higher-effort behavior compared to hand-washing. This complexity extends the time required to transform it into a habit. So, when setting fitness goals, understanding the challenges of building a gym habit is essential.

Predictors of Habit Formation

We explore the predictors of habit formation. One notable finding is that the longer it has been since someone last engaged in a specific behavior, the less likely they are to resume it on a given day. We also discuss the impact of a "fresh start," especially how starting the week with a gym visit can set the tone for a successful week.

Practical Insights for Building and Maintaining Healthy Habits

This blog post isn't just about the science; it's about actionable advice. We provide practical insights to help you build and maintain healthy habits in your daily life. From debunking the 21-day myth to understanding the complexity of gym habits, our aim is to empower you to make lasting changes in your life.

Uncover the Secrets of Habit Formation

We encourage you to dive into the complete discussion on this fascinating topic in our latest Fit For Life Radio episode. By understanding the science of habit formation, you'll be better equipped to navigate the journey of adopting and sustaining healthy behaviors. Listen to the podcast now and unlock the secrets of forming lasting habits.

Habit formation is a dynamic and nuanced process, and the more you understand it, the better equipped you are to make positive changes in your life.

🎧 Listen to the Podcast Episode [here]

Looking for a gym that provides coaching, accountability, and support? Schedule a strategy session to learn more about what we offer and try our 30-day Smart Start Trial: Click Here To Start


bottom of page