Improving fitness is the most popular New Year’s resolution every year, but a whopping 69% of people fail to maintain their new habits for the full 12 months.
As 2024 gets underway and the festive period becomes a distant memory, those ambitious fitness pledges made in earnest at the turn of the new year can easily fall by the wayside.
It can be tough to stay motivated alongside the cold and often miserable weather, the pressures of returning to work after a break and the general hum-drum of January life.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Alexa Duckworth-Briggs, We Run Coach and UK Athletics-qualified Coach in Running Fitness who shares her top tips for keeping fitness momentum throughout January and into the rest of 2024.
- Stay accountable
“Accountability can be the difference between achieving your fitness goals and falling short”, explains Alexa. “Share your goals with others and ask to be accountability buddies with fellow fitness fans – so you each check the other is doing what they have committed to.
“Even just messaging someone to say you are going for a run the next morning (and then again when you’ve done it!) will really help you get out there – and if you can arrange to train together in person, even better!”
- Find the joy
“Finding ways of enjoying exercise – especially when it’s an unfamiliar activity – will really help you to stick with it,” Alexa says. “You might not learn to love your new activity right away but you can absolutely fast-track that process by making it more fun to do.
“Listening to your favourite playlist as you run, phoning your best friend for a chat whilst you are out for a walk or watching the next episode of your favourite TV series whilst on the treadmill or stationary bike will help to keep you motivated.”
- Turbo-boost your mood
“Exercise already gives you a real boost to mind and body, but you can supercharge the benefits by joining it up with other things that make you feel better to tick lots of mood-boosting boxes, “ explains Alexa.
“For example, being outside – even in dull weather – improves our motivation and wakes us up more. Connecting with others can also boost your mood in both the short and longer term, so group activities outdoors like park runs can give you a whole rush of benefits all in one go – making you more likely to do it again.”
- Celebrate the small things
“It’s important to take one step at a time and celebrate your progress,” Alexa says. “Make your goals small and achievable so that you can tick off regularly and really celebrate as you go.
“Instead of a goal for a big chunk of time like the whole year, write down all the small goals along the way – for example, running a certain duration or distance in two weeks time. You get that buzz of achievement regularly and really see your progress which will help to keep you on track.”
- Be playful – literally!
“Turn exercise into a game!” advises Alexa. “There are loads of apps out there that award levels and achievements to keep you engaged and reward you for meeting your fitness goals.
“If you prefer a more analogue approach, write up a star chart on the fridge so you can tick off each session and get a little reward for everyone you tick off.
You could even pop some change in a jar each time you train so that you can treat yourself to a nice coffee or a treat every couple of weeks.”