Getting More Exercise Among Your New Year's Resolutions? Here's How to Stick To It

Dec 30, 2014

Many gym regulars dread the first of the year – it’s often a time when gyms get overcrowded with newcomers, making good on the popular New Year’s resolution to exercise more.

But, come February and March the crowds die down. Why? Because, as with many New Year’s resolutions, people tend to give up on the exercise one fairly quickly. There could be a number of reasons, including goals that are too big and lack of planning.

“The key thing is that you have to pick a goal that you can achieve and then figure out exactly what steps you need to take to achieve it,” said Andrea Kriska, professor of epidemiology in the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health.

Kriska recommends writing down the steps and check them off as you go. She says logging and writing things down to follow progress is key. In addition to exercise, one suggestion for improved health is to sit less.

“Sitting can be logged and tracked along with physical activity,” said Bonny Rockette-Wagner, director of physical activity assessment in the School of Public Health. “We suggest that people try to identify and break up periods of sitting that are more than two hours in length with periods of movement.”

That could mean getting up and walking in place during commercials while watching TV, or in between shows if binge watching on Netflix; or getting up and walking around at work, or climbing stairs. Rockette-Wagner said people often don’t do these things because they think any exercise benefit has to come from big chunks of activity. She said that is not the case.

“Small amounts do add up and there is research to back that up,” she said. “So getting up during commercial breaks really does add up and breaking up your sedentary time really helps your metabolism get going and it gets your blood flowing, and it actually has a noticeable impact on peoples’ health.”

The biggest bit of advice to stick with exercise is to start slow and plan, but also be aware that “life happens,” said Kriska. “Know that life is going to step in the way at some point, but if you followed that path the first time, if you fall, you can get back on that path.”

Learn how to keep your resolution to lose wight here.

Learn how to keep your resolution to quit smoking in the new year here.

Learn how to make your resolution to volunteer more stick here.