If you’re like most Americans, you’ve made exercise and weight loss your New Year’s resolution to kick off the new decade. Unfortunately, resolutions are a lot easier to make than they are to keep.
According to a study from the Statistic Brain Research Institute, nearly half of Americans will make resolutions for 2020. The most common resolution — made by almost a quarter of every person making one — involves increasing fitness and activity. As people try to pull on their jeans after the holiday season, there is a strong desire to get active.
Walk into any fitness center during the month of January, and you might have to wait to get on a treadmill or elliptical. Don’t worry, by February, the wait will be over. A study found that of those who made resolutions, 37% of people in their 20s and 16% of those over 50 were successful, meaning they met their objectives. Combined, fewer than half of all New Year’s resolutions were successful six months later.
We’re not suggesting you will be one of the quitters. But just in case you find yourself losing momentum mid-January, try these tips to keep you going:
- Make it Social – We are social creatures. The more we interact with others, the more likely we are to modify behavior. Social interaction has been shown to make people more likely to work out.Sign up for a fitness class, join a local running or walking club, or even hire a personal trainer. If possible, pay in advance. Committing financially means you’re much more likely to stick with your program. Nowadays if you’re can’t get to an actual class, there are virtual options to hold you accountable. Tracking devices like Fitbit and Garmin allow you to create social communities to encourage each other to stay on track.
- Set a Date-Specific Goal – Try to avoid setting unattainable goals. A 30 or even 20-pound weight loss goal will take time. Instead set date-specific goals, like signing up for an event. A 5K walk, a 5K run, an increase in lifted weight, etc. Set your goal just outside of your comfort zone and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Make a calendar to track your progress and count down to the big event.
- Keep it Fun – No one will continue with something that isn’t enjoyable. You have to make your exercise and weight loss fun. A small study published in Germany showed that when people were having fun, they were much more likely to stick with their exercise. Exercise releases feel good endorphins. If you’re not walking out of the gym with a smile on your face, perhaps it’s time to try something else.