Auburn teacher gives tips to stay on track with New Year’s resolutions

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At the start of a New Year, many people make resolutions to adopt a healthier lifestyle, whether it’s by changing their diet, exercising, or a combination of the two. However, many people admit to giving up on their resolutions at the start of the year, despite their best intentions when making the resolutions. Danielle Wadsworth, associate professor at the College of Education’s School of Kinesiology, answered a few questions about how people can stay on track with their goals.

Why are people more eager to make New Year’s resolutions for exercise rather than diving any other time of the year?

I’m not sure there’s a clear reason why, other than the fact that most people associate the New Year with a fresh start and a chance for a change. Remember that any time is a good time to get your body moving.

It seems that a lot of people give up exercise routines a few weeks out of the year. Why is that?

There are many reasons people give up on their exercise routines. First, most people overestimate what they can do or how much time and energy a new exercise routine takes. Second, it is difficult for many to start a new exercise routine. Exercise for most of us is a willful behavior that may require research into what it is you want to do, or new equipment, or time, or it may be something some people just don’t like. Third, for many, exercise is the first to enter a long list of competing demands. Although the New Year brings us a period of growth, it also has many obligations.

What can people do to make sure their resolutions are sustainable in the long run?

The main reason people report giving up on an exercise routine is a lack of time, but I would say it’s a lack of time management, not real time. After all, regular practitioners only have 24 hours a day, just like non-practitioners. The only difference is that regular athletes manage their time and make exercise a priority. If you want exercise to be a part of your regular schedule, do what you do for all the important parts of your life – put it on the calendar first.

The second reason people quit an exercise program is that they don’t see the results they want. I encourage everyone to keep their goals small, increase it a bit week after week, and if you hit a plateau change anything to get your body back on track.

I also encourage everyone to keep it simple and find something that you enjoy doing on a regular basis.

What are the best motivators and ways to stay motivated?

Most people are motivated by one of three things: fun, relating to others, or the ability to show that you are good at something. Think about yourself and what makes you tick. Do you need to exercise to finish it? Would it be helpful to exercise with other people or do you prefer to exercise on your own? What are you good at and how can you improve? Identifying these aspects early on will pay off in the future.

What suggestions do you have for people who want to start exercising in the New Year? For someone who hasn’t had a physical activity routine, what’s the best way to start maintaining consistency?

First of all, keep it simple. You can meet exercise recommendations by simply walking 10,000 steps a day. Add simple resistance to bodyweight, like squats and push-ups and stretching, and you’ve got a well-rounded routine. Second, if you have a smart watch, USE IT! Let Him help you follow in your footsteps and hold you accountable. Third, try to move more throughout the day. If you have to sit for long periods of the day, try setting a timer for standing or moving around. Fourth, think outside the box and make it fun. Exercise can and should be fun. If you have kids, think about how you can get them involved. Elementary school children attend physical education every day in Alabama. Ask them what they did and start over at home. Find fun jobsite challenges or start your own TikTok revolution.

If people are falling behind on their goals, what’s a good way to start over?

You probably won’t reach all of your exercise goals. Give yourself a little grace and re-evaluate what you can do NOW. The most important aspect is that you MOVE! Think about how you can readjust and keep moving forward.

What kinds of goals are realistic and therefore more realistically achievable?

The goals really depend on what you’re doing now, what you’ve done in the past, and your physical ability. For the most part, I would think of frequency (how many days per week), intensity (how hard you exercise) and time (duration of activity) and extend just one by week. Humans are meant to be active, and exercise can and should be a part of your daily routine. You got this!