5 Questions to troubleshoot your new year’s exercise resolutions

I read a statistic this week that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the time February comes around. There is even an International Quitter’s Day on the 2nd Friday in January to mark the day that most people give up on their resolutions. So, if you feel like your exercise plans are starting to come unstuck, here are a few things to ask yourself.

1. Is your exercise resolution specific enough?

Resolutions like “get fitter” and “do more exercise” are difficult to maintain because they are difficult to measure and to see progress happening. This can make staying motivated difficult. A more specific goal might be “to follow a couch-to-5k programme” or “increase the amount of weight you are lifting for a resistance-based exercise”. It might be as simple as “going for a 30-minute walk every evening after work”.

2. Does your resolution make you happy?

I have lost count of the amount of people I have met who hate running but do it because they think they should. So, if you have started a couch-to-5k programme and you are hating every step of it, try something else! Maybe this year, your resolution should be to try a yoga or pilates class… or try out your local tennis club… or rope in some friends and try take to the sea for a swim. Make your resolution be to figure out what sort of exercise you enjoy doing. If you remember nothing else from this blog, please remember this: EXERCISE IS NOT PUNISHMENT! It is not a way to atone for overindulgence at Christmas or at the weekend. It is a way of improving your physical and mental health and well-being. This leads me onto my next question.

3. Are you making your resolution for the right reasons?

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is “to lose weight”. This is hardly surprising given the high volume of “weight loss solutions” touted in the media and on social media in the lead up January every year. However, not everybody will lose weight exercising. The idea that you need to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight is overly simplistic and doesn’t take into account the many reasons that someone may have trouble manipulating their body size and shape. So, if this is your goal and you are not achieving what you had hoped, try to reframe why you are exercising. Look at exercise as an essential form of self-care that can increase strength and cardiovascular fitness, improve pain, sleep and mood, as well as many other physical and mental benefits.

4. Is your resolution attainable?

Maybe you were a little over ambitious and are struggling in terms of finding time to devote to your resolution or the pace of your plan has been too fast for you to keep up with. This will often lead to feeling a bit overwhelmed and discouraged and cause people to give up altogether on their resolution. If this is the case, try to break the goal down into smaller short- term goals that you know you can manage and start to build from there. Make sure that your plan is flexible enough to be able to adapt to what life might throw at you, whether you have a child who is teething and you aren’t getting any sleep, you have a major deadline coming up at work and you are working extra hours, or you are unable to attend your exercise class for Covid related reasons. When you hit bumps in the road, be kind to yourself, re-evaluate and start again as soon as you can. Don’t fall into the trap of waiting until the start of the next week.

5. Have you sustained an injury?

As physios, a common cause of injuries we see is people overloading their bodies. Put simply, doing too much too soon. Our bodies are designed to adapt to whatever we throw at them but this needs to be done slowly and consistently in order to avoid injury. The British Journal of Sports Medicine produced a video a few years ago explaining the theory of load versus capacity and injury that I find really helpful when I am discussing overloading injuries with my patients.

PMC Physiotherapy Dunboyne recommendation

If you are struggling with an injury, contact our Dunboyne clinic to arrange an appointment so that we can diagnose your injury, identify what is contributing to it and get you back towards achieving your goals as soon as possible.


PMC Physiotherapy Clinic, Unit 36, Dunboyne Business Park, Dunboyne, Co Meath

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