How Long Does It Take to Establish Healthy Habits?

Everyone is unique in their journey to well-being. The time it takes to establish healthy habits varies from person to person. Though it is not always easy, establishing and maintaining healthy habits is vital because they contribute to long-term well-being and happiness. 

According to a European Journal of Social Psychology study, it takes 18-254 days for a person to form a new habit. The National Library of Medicine says that habit formation can take around 10 weeks. Various factors can influence this timeline, such as an individual's motivation, consistency, and the complexity of the practice. Optimism is important, but it is equally important to approach the establishment of healthy habits with self-compassion, patience, and perseverance.

Less complex habits, like drinking more water or taking a daily walk, may require less time to master. More complex practices, such as adopting a regular workout routine or making significant dietary changes, can require more effort and time. Gradually increasing the time spent forming healthy habits as you become more comfortable and experienced can help ensure sustainable progress. Experts recommend starting with small, achievable goals and gradually increasing the time and effort dedicated to the habit. Incremental changes are more realistic and sustainable. Finding a balance that works for you will help with remaining consistent. Consistency is vital to progressing healthy habits.

How Can I Stay Motivated to Establish Healthy Habits?

Staying motivated to establish healthy habits can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can try to maintain your motivation:

  • Set clear goals: Clearly define what you want to achieve with your healthy habits. Make your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). A clear target will give you something to work towards and help you stay focused.
  • Know your why: Understand your reasons for wanting to establish healthy habits. Whether improving your overall well-being, increasing your energy levels, or reducing the risk of certain health conditions, connecting with your deeper motivations can provide a vital source of inspiration. Commitment to yourself and others will help you to stay on track.
  • Break it down: Large goals can sometimes feel overwhelming. Break them down into smaller, manageable tasks or milestones. Celebrate your progress along the way, as this will help you maintain a sense of achievement and keep your motivation high. Practical goals are less intimidating and more motivating.
  • Plan: Having a set time or schedule for your habits makes them feel more automatic and reduces the chances of procrastination. Develop strategies that will help you to stay focused and on track.
  • Track your progress: Record your progress to see how far you've come. This record can be in the form of a journal, an app, or a habit tracker. Seeing your improvement over time can boost your motivation and provide a visual reminder of your dedication.

Motivation will come and go. It is important to find the strategies that work best for you. By staying consistent, being committed, and finding joy in the process, you can establish and maintain healthy habits in the long run.

Benefits of Establishing Healthy Habits

Developing healthy behaviors can improve your general well-being in several ways. For example, when you prioritize your physical health through regular exercise and a balanced diet, you enhance your energy levels, boost your immune system, and reduce the risks of chronic illnesses. The healthy habit of getting adequate sleep rejuvenates your body and mind, allowing you to function well and maintain cognitive sharpness. By integrating healthy habits into your lifestyle, you nurture your holistic well-being and enjoy a higher quality of life.

Developing healthy habits can boost your self-esteem and confidence. Feeling good physically and mentally makes you more likely to have a positive self-image. The benefits are not all personal. Establishing healthy habits can inspire and positively influence those around you. By leading by example, you can motivate others to make positive changes in their own lives. You can become a live demonstration of the positive effects and attainability. Relationships with others also tend to improve. Life overall becomes more enjoyable.

How Long Does It Typically Take to See Results from Establishing Healthy Habits?

Each person will experience the benefits of developing healthy behaviors in their time frame. It is not beneficial to compare your results to those of the next individual. The timeline for the results can vary depending on many variables. Individual circumstances, available resources, and the complexity of the habit are a few of these variables. Effects can be short-term, medium-term, and/or long-term. It is vital to approach the establishment of habits with patience and realistic expectations. The journey towards better health and well-being is ongoing. The endless benefits are well worth the investment of time and effort.

Establishing healthy behaviors takes various amounts of time for different people depending on several variables. While some short-term impacts may become apparent in days or weeks, the advantages of healthy habits frequently take time to manifest. 

The timeframe that it takes to form healthy habits is not written in stone. It can be affected by the complexity of the practice and unique circumstances. In the process of forming good habits, patience, persistence, and consistency are crucial. Healthy habits can become ingrained in one's lifestyle and eventually lead to increased well-being and a higher quality of life through being dedicated, emphasizing slow development, and adopting self-compassion. Regardless of the precise schedule, remember that every step you take toward greater health is a step on the right path.


Centers for Disease Control and prevention. (2021, January 4). How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health?. 

Gardner, B., Lally, P., & Wardle, J. (2012). Making health habitual: The psychology of “habit-formation” and general practice. British Journal of General Practice, 62(605), 664–666. 

Lally, P., Van Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Potts, H.W.W., & Wardle J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 998-1009. DOI:10.1002/ejsp.674.


Brittnie Colleton

Brittnie Colleton RN, BSN is an experienced nurse writer with a passion for total health and well-being. With over 10 years of clinical experience, Brittnie has developed a deep understanding of the intricacies of healthcare and the importance of preventative care. She is passionate about educating and inspiring others to lead healthy lifestyles. As a natural advocate, she believes that it is important for everyone to be equipped with evidence-based information so that they can make informed decisions about their own care.