New Year, New You?

8 simple steps to ensure your New Year’s resolution lasts longer than the month of January

by Laura Chapman, January 2019

New Year’s resolutions are often fuelled by the best intentions, greatest confidence (and often a glass or two of celebratory champagne). But how do we ensure that our resolutions have the staying power to get us through the year?

Here are 8 pointers to keep in mind as you kick-start your health & fitness journey in 2019.

1. Make a plan

A study published by the British Journal of Health Psychology found that 91% of participants who wrote down a plan of when and where to exercise successfully met their goals. Planning is important because it helps to provide your idea with a strategy. Whilst your idea might be to run a marathon in October, your plan may be to run on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 6:30am before work.

2. Set realistic goals

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but i’m sure no-one expected it to be either. Similarly strength, flexibility, endurance and fitness take time to improve. Work on one goal at a time, and give yourself a realistic time frame to review your progress.

3. Don’t overdo it

Doing too much, too soon will likely end up in exhaustion, injury and have you feeling defeated. So start small and work your way up. You will have a much better chance of following your plan if you work within your successes and gradually build up your exercise routine and intensity. Pencil in some crucial rest days to let your body acclimatise to the new routine.

4. Start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down

An effective warm up preps your body for exercise and reduces the likelihood of injury. Remember to keep your warm up exercises specific to your chosen activity. For example, warm up your ankles, hips, lower back and leg muscles before going for a run. Cooling down and stretching post-exercise helps to reduce the intensity of post-exercise soreness.

5. Focus on your form

Quality trumps quantity when it comes to training. Slow the action down and focus on your form first. Then add different variables (eg weight, repetitions, speed, distance, time under stress) to increase the intensity of your exercise. This helps to reduce your risk of injury and ensures you are training more efficiently.

6. Listen to your body

You are starting a wonderful journey with your body, and it’s important to get to know each other well. Listen when your body talks to you. Get to know the difference between “good pain” and “bad pain”. In the early stages of exercise it’s often difficult to discern between the two, because everything hurts! The secret lies in the nature and duration of the pain.

Examples of “good pain”

A mild burning muscle pain while performing an activity such as weight lifting. This burning sensation ends as soon as you stop the activity.
    A delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) produces a generalised ache or stiffness that begins after your workout. For some, it may start an hour after training, while for others it may begin up to a couple of days later.

Examples of “bad pain”

Severe, sharp, shooting pain that occurs during the activity or pain associated with redness or swelling. Be aware of pain associated with old injuries or surgical areas.

7. Catch up on some sleep

Your New Year’s resolution will certainly have you expending a lot more energy. Sleep allows your body the time to conserve valuable energy, recover, repair and build up muscle from exercise. Getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep helps to improve concentration, endurance, drive and strength, working positively to help you nail those resolutions.

8. Exercise with a friend

Exercising with a friend or a community group can help to keep you motivated and accountable and can often be great fun too. Running & cycling clubs, bootcamps, gym classes, water aerobics, tai chi, pilates, yoga, zumba and dance classes. The possibilities are endless!

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