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28 January 2019

How can we get the most from our healthy resolutions?

As the new year has rolled around, many of us have been thinking about how we can make improvements in our lives.

Healthy resolutions

Whether small or large, many of us will make resolutions based on health, fitness and getting active in the new year.

While it is important to make healthy lifestyle changes and get serious about your physical well-being, why do so many people give up or end up with injuries as a result of their fitness resolutions? Can too much exercise all at once be bad for you? Is it best to ease into a new exercise regime or to dive straight in?

Dr Richard Bruce, Programme Lead for Sports & Exercise Medical Sciences comments on how to get the most out of your exercise resolutions.

‘The first step is to carefully select the specific goal you want to achieve. General goals such as ‘getting fit’ or ‘losing-weight’ are often doomed for failure because there is no explicit target to plan for and work towards. This concept of specificity is important as different types of training of lifestyle change can have very different effects on the body, and so the regime you choose will depend on the specific goal. Equally, unrealistic goals – e.g. a 3-hour marathon for a running novice - will also fail as you inevitably become discouraged by the lack of progress and have the potential to cause injury. So, choose something challenging yet attainable, which could perhaps be the first in a series of milestones towards a long-term goal.

Once you have a goal and formulate your plan it can be beneficial to slowly phase the changes into your life. So, don’t just start running as many miles as you can, or completely cut certain foodstuffs out of your diet, as this also runs the risk of failure as the task may suddenly seem impossible or lead to injury. It is also important to recognise that set-backs (e.g. ‘cheat-days’) are inevitable and are a natural part of the process – so don’t get discouraged by them. Putting a time frame on your new regime (e.g. 6-8 weeks) can also be beneficial as it gives you a target to work towards, and it gives enough time to see if the plan is working or not. If not, simply modify the plan and try again.’