Riding a bike can be a lot of work. As well as your daily rides before or after work or school, you’ve got to eat, keep your bike tuned, stretch, and still get enough sleep so your body can repair itself.
It can sometimes seem overwhelming trying to get all these things accomplished, but it’s important to be consistent. If you don’t stretch enough, you may find yourself injured, and you’ll want to keep up your healthy diet and bike maintenance.
Habit-stacking can help you get it all done and have some time to spare.
The term “habit stacking” was coined by S.J. Scott, the author of Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less. The concept, according to Scott, is simple: by adding new habits on top of existing ones, you’re more likely to do them consistently over the long term.
Habit stacking for cyclists
Building a new habit is hard, because until it’s a habit, it can be difficult to remember to do it or find the time to fit it into your already busy schedule. Activities that are fairly mindless or automatic, that you’re already doing, are great opportunities for habit stacking, because they’re usually times when you aren’t doing anything else (like brushing your teeth, watching T.V. or waiting for your coffee to be ready).
You likely do all three of those habits every day, so they’re great candidates for habit stacking because you’re not likely to forget to do them. Every time you go to do that activity, it will act as a reminder to also do whatever habit you’re trying to ingrain.
Making time when it seems there isn’t any
For example, if you have trouble finding time, or remembering, to foam roll, you can spend 10 minutes doing it while you watch your favourite T.V. show. If you always forget to stretch (or don’t want to take extra time out of your day to do it), do a few light stretches while you make your coffee in the morning. You can even practice your single-leg balance or get some extra strength training (you could try air squats, lunges or calf raises) while you brush your teeth. Committing five minutes for some core work after your ride or doing some strides in the middle of your ride are other good examples of habit stacking. If your bike is dirty or needs a once over, take a few minutes as you watch Jeopardy!.
Habit stacking is a simple way to make new habits stick. Doing some calf raises while you’re brushing your teeth may not sound like a big deal, but gains are made through small, consistent habits over time, so if you’re having trouble fitting everything you need to do into your daily schedule, use the things you’re already doing as a springboard for incorporating new, positive behaviours into your daily routine.