How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

December 20, 2019 Jonny Eberle Comments (1)

Every year, 80% of Americans give up on their resolutions. Here’s how to beat the odds and create an exercise plan you can stick with all year.

The start of a new year is a natural time to hit the reset button and start something new. Every January, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions. One of the most popular resolutions is committing time to exercise more, but creating healthy habits from scratch is no easy feat. Unfortunately, 80% of Americans give up on their resolutions by the middle of February. Here’s how to beat the odds and create an exercise plan you can stick with all year:

Start with Small Changes

Woman in a PiYo group exercise class at the YMCA.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. That works out to less than an hour of a day of moderate exercise. However, research shows that any amount of physical activity is good for us — leading to improved sleep, reduced anxiety and blood pressure, and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

So, start small. If you’re not ready to exercise for a full 20 minutes, start with a brisk 5-10 minute walk. Over time, you can build up your endurance and start adding longer, more intense workouts to your exercise schedule.

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Set a Goal, But Be Flexible

Man at the University Y Student Center in Tacoma does chest flies as part of his exercise routine.

Goals are incredibly helpful in motivating us to make meaningful changes in our lives, like going to the gym on a regular basis. For goals to be effective, though, they need to be SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. An example of a SMART goal is to be able to run a 5K by the end of July and participate in a race with a friend in August. By creating a highly specific goal that’s easy to visualize with measurable outcomes and set end date, you’re giving yourself the best chance of following through, because clear goals are easier to focus on.

That being said, it’s important to give yourself grace. Allow yourself a free pass if you miss a day or two of exercise. Forming healthy habits is difficult. Give yourself permission to slip up every now and then. That flexibility can help prevent you from getting discouraged and giving up.

Using behavioral science to build an exercise habit

Find an Accountability Buddy

Two women in a group exercise class at the Y hug and support each other’s workout goals.

Working out with a friend or attending the same group exercise class every week can help build accountability into your exercise routine. With someone else to help you stay on track, you’re much more likely to stick to the plan and show up for your workout. Plus, working out with a friend or loved one can make exercising more enjoyable.

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You Can Do This

Committing to a healthier lifestyle is not easy, but by starting small, setting achievable goals, and holding yourself accountable, you’re much more likely to stick with your New Year’s resolution. Once you get into the habit of exercising, it will get easier and easier to lace up your running shoes and go to the gym.

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    Posted Jan 25, 2020, by SHIRLEY ILLMAN

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