Every year, I start out in January with the intention of being fitter, stronger and more flexible than the previous. And, secretly hoping that I will slide into the jeans I have kept on my ‘just in case of a severe virus’ pile.

How do I get on? Probably like the other 80% of people starting out their New Year with unachievable goals…not the best! To improve on this, I thought I would do a bit of research about how we can start building better habits in 2020. It feels like a good year to start. A new decade for greatness.

 Habits are very difficult to form, especially if we start out with a goal that is beyond our reach. If we were to aim to start January hoping to lose 15lb in 3 days or run a marathon by day 7 (when we are a complete novice), we would be pretty disappointed. Why? Because, as humans we tend to enjoy instant gratification, so whilst the long-term gain is great, we need to consider the smaller benefits in the interim to reduce the likelihood of giving up.

Exercise

We can do this by considering exercise and its instant and long-term benefits. Research is not limited in highlighting the importance of exercise for our overall health and wellbeing and what I have been most interested in of late is the profound impact exercising can have on our mental and emotional fitness. Particularly, our happiness and general positivity. This can be seen instantly, therefore, if we are mindful of these small change’s we are more likely to continue with our goal.

Benefits of exercise

Short term benefits (post exercise)

Long term benefits

  •     Boosts mood (lots of happy hormones!)
  •     Increased flexibility
  •     Increases confidence & productivity
  •     Increased muscle tone
  •     Improves sleep
  •     Reduces likelihood of heart disease & type 2 diabetes.
  •     Improves concentration
  •     Increases chance of living longer
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Strengthens bones

Like every year, I am going to kick start January, joining the RED community-making sure I get active each day through a variety of activities. But this time, I’m going to make clear goals and monitor my progress so that I see those small changes. Plus, making sure they are achievable goals. Hoping that I can continue this way beyond the January challenge. I want exercising every day to be a habit. I’m not going to focus on an end result, I am going to take it one day at a time, sitting back and considering any benefits I have felt post workout that day. Considering the benefits already highlighted above, I am doing this by monitoring my sleep, mood and self-confidence (via some apps and psychometric assessments)

Research suggests that habits, on average are formed after 66 days (Lally 2009), but what I am really interested in is if a person completes RED January, getting active each day, if they can go on and turn an active January into an active year.

Join me in my quest to complete RED January but also in making resolutions reality.

My next steps are to: –

  1. Sign up to RED at redtogether.co.uk
  2. Download their calendar and make reasonable buildable steps, SMART goals if you like.
  3. Monitor changes (mood, sleep, self-confidence)
  4. Take each day as a step, don’t focus on the end goal, then hopefully achieve that ‘active year’.

Watch this space! I’ll be sharing my progress with the challenge.

Amy H

@avwellbeing