Personal trainer

Employing a bit of resolve

The words 'stay fit' on a calendar with 'January 1st' as the date

It’s that time again. The majority of us have made a new year’s resolution – some of us have even made a few – but we’re fast approaching that uncomfortable bit, over a week into January, where resolve begins to weaken and the idea of maintaining self-discipline for another week, let alone a year, is fast losing its appeal.

According to a new YouGov poll, getting fit tops the list of new year’s resolutions but there’s often an issue with how long most of us are able to maintain our resolve and stick with any abstinence or new activity. 

If we don’t want it to end up kicked to the kerb like most of the other resolutions, it’s important that we look at how we address a new fitness regime and, first off, it’s important to keep it manageable.

We’re all familiar with the ‘change one thing’ campaign. The message is scalability. Put simply, ‘don’t bite off more than you can chew’. Better to incorporate five minutes of brisk walking into your daily stroll than join an expensive gym you won’t end up going to. You are far more likely to maintain a small change than a large one.

Earlier this week, Dr Luisa Dilner, writing for the Guardian, examined our choices of exercise to determine what is the healthiest way to engage in fitness activity. Noting that a number of studies published last year showed the benefits of bursts of high-energy exercise – for example, one minute intense cycling within a gentle ten-minute workout – she looked for indicators of physical fitness. Taking a small study, which revealed that three minutes of intense exercise within a 30-minute workout, three times a week, increased the participants’ maximum oxygen consumption, Dilner surmised that higher frequency, more intense exercise produces the greatest health benefits.

The good news here is that that little bit of high intensity exercise, crowbarred into an existing routine, is perfectly manageable – a quick burst of fast running in the middle of a twice-weekly jog, a bit of brisk walking interspersed with a leisurely, daily stroll and some fast cycling for a few minutes during a sociable bike ride. None of these examples take up too much time. In fact, in these specific examples, they can just be tagged on to existing activity but they are effective and have been proven to be a healthy way of upping the exercise ante.

Finally, the golden rule with any resolution is to stick with it. Get over that mid-January hump and if you fail, don’t draw a line under the new resolution; just pick up where you left off the next day. Good behaviour has to be repeated with far greater frequency than bad behaviour does to become a habit and, ultimately, that’s the key achievement. When getting fitter becomes part of the daily regime and you don’t have to think about it, it’s become a habit and you’ve cracked it. 

Happy New Year !