Expert advice on sticking to your New Year's fitness resolution for 2024

Without a support system, it can be more challenging to overcome obstacles and stay committed. l PEXELS/IVAN SAMKOV

Without a support system, it can be more challenging to overcome obstacles and stay committed. l PEXELS/IVAN SAMKOV

Published Jan 12, 2024


It’s that time of the year when we’re all given a fresh start to set our goals for our New Year’s resolutions – find a new hobby, save more money, or improve our fitness. However, while it is a popular resolution, getting fit can be particularly difficult.

Research on New Year’s resolutions suggests that while many people set these goals with good intentions, especially fitness and health-related ones, the majority struggle to stick with them throughout the year.

According to a study by the University of Scranton, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only about 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.

There are several reasons why resolutions dissipate:

1. Unrealistic goals: People often set ambitious resolutions without considering the steps needed to achieve them.

2. Lack of planning: Failing to create a detailed plan to reach the objectives can lead to early setbacks and loss of motivation.

3. Declining motivation: Initial enthusiasm can wane over time, especially if results don’t come quickly.

4. Too many changes at once: Overwhelming oneself with multiple resolutions can make it harder to focus and be successful in any of them.

5. Lack of support: Without a support system, it can be more challenging to overcome obstacles and stay committed.

A substantial number of resolutions are related to exercise and diet. A study from the American Psychological Association showed that about 50% of Americans made resolutions related to exercise and that weight-related goals were among the most common New Year's resolutions.

Another statistic from a 2016 poll by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion noted that "weight loss" was the most frequently mentioned resolution for the upcoming year.

However, statistics on how many people stick to these specific fitness and health goals throughout the year widely vary, and data tends to be based on self-reported surveys, which can have limitations.

To increase the likelihood of sticking to New Year's resolutions, especially fitness and health goals, experts recommend setting SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Also, creating a realistic plan, tracking progress, celebrating small victories, and seeking support from friends, family, or professionals can make a significant difference in maintaining resolutions throughout the year.

Fortunately, experts at SET FOR SET have highlighted five ways to stay fit and healthy while enjoying the festivities.

In the hustle and bustle of returning to work and juggling a busy schedule after the holidays, finding time for exercise can be challenging. To help you stay committed to your fitness goals, here are some tips to plan and stick to your New Year's resolution.

"Many people across the nation will have fitness goals set in place as part of their New Year’s resolution, whether that be to lose weight, build muscle, or simply to exercise more often," said a spokesperson from SET FOR SET.

"However, with little planning into how to stick to the goals, lots of people might be second-guessing their resolution, and may even be close to giving up."

Plan your exercise schedule

Block out your calendar with your work schedule and any extra-curricular plans. Consider the times when you may finish work late or have other commitments, and make space for exercise on the days you have free time.

By taking an organised approach, you can ensure that you have time for other activities while avoiding neglecting fitness.

Stick to full-body workouts

For beginners or those returning to fitness after a break, full-body workouts are a great way to maintain physical activity without overwhelming yourself.

Instead of frequent visits to the gym, try exercise classes like Pilates and HIIT, which target all muscles in a time-efficient manner.

Socialise while working out

Exercising with a friend can make workouts less intimidating and provide motivation. Whether it's hitting the gym together or participating in a class, having a fitness partner helps keep you accountable and committed.

Additionally, tracking progress and celebrating achievements together can further motivate you to stay on track.

Opt for home workouts

Home workouts can eliminate excuses for not exercising. If you don’t have equipment, stick to bodyweight exercises and cardio routines that can be done without any special gear.

Adjust your rep range and include exercises like planks, push-ups, and star jumps to maintain a well-rounded workout.

Eat healthy foods to compensate for treats

Incorporating healthy foods into your daily routine can help balance out indulgences without derailing your fitness progress.

Consuming nutrient-rich vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots, can provide the necessary vitamins and antioxidants to support your health.

Remember to steam vegetables to retain their nutrients and create a well-balanced diet.

By planning, diversifying your workout routine and maintaining a healthy diet, you can stay committed to your fitness goals throughout the year.

“With these tips, structuring workouts is much easier to give yourself lots of time and prevent excuses – as a result, you can enter the right mind-frame that is needed for fitness and keep on pushing.”