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New Year, new you?

Published: 22 December 2020

Image of yoga mat and laptop on the floor

How to stick to your new year resolutions

Lots of us start January with a view to changing some aspect of our behaviour. Losing weight or getting fitter is often on the list but while choosing exercise is a popular choice, sticking to it can be another matter. So, what can you do to increase the chance of your resolution making it past February 1?

Be realistic in your goals

Whatever your age, going from sitting on your sofa to the full 26.2 miles needed for a marathon is a tall order. Goal setting helps motivation, but an unreachable target can have the opposite effect.

If you're new or returning to exercise, start small and build from there. Set weekly or even daily goals if you have to ("I'll go for a 20 minute walk at least three times a week in my lunch hour"), and once you've hit your initial target increase it from there

Choose something you'll (probably!) enjoy

It sounds obvious but if you're choosing an activity that you know will always be a chore, the likelihood of it becoming a new habit is low. That's not to say that your goal will be easy to accomplish – determination plays a big part.

Undertaking a new activity may leave you feeling a little sore the next day, but that's perfectly normal and will disappear as your body (and your mind) gets used to the idea. The upsides are that you're likely to feel happier and may even sleep better thanks to the exercise.

Join with others to make it happen

It's said that writing down a resolution makes it more likely to be accomplished, but one thing that's guaranteed to help most people stick to a new activity is doing it alongside others.

In a COVID world that doesn't need to mean physically mixing with others. Live exercise sessions online can help you feel part of a group, while roping in your partner or kids as you follow a video on YouTube will mean you're less likely to back out.

You can also get support from others with the same goal if you decide to give free 9-week programmes like Couch to 5k or the new Couch to Fitness programme a try.

Some people find extra motivation in having a more immediate or financial goal in their sights – something that RED January can offer. Started by a daughter wanting to help her mum recover from depression, it encourages you to choose your activity while raising funds for the charity 'Sport In Mind', and brings together 1000's of novice 'REDders' in a virtual community every year.

If you do only one thing…

Not got time to commit to exercise? Sitting for long periods is one of the biggest problems in modern life so if you do nothing else, commit to trying to get up from your seat every time ads appear on the TV, or once every 30 minutes if you are working from home.

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