Simone Muscat Physio
Make sure you’re in the 9% that reach their New Year’s goals.
Whether your New Year’s exercise resolutions are to shed those few extra kilos you’ve put on over Christmas, or complete that first elusive marathon, research by the University of Scranton shows that only 9% of us will actually achieve our New Year’s goals in 2017. So how can you ensure that you are one of those 9%? Here are my top tips to kicking goals this year.
When a resolution is unrealistic and overcomplicated, you are setting yourself up for failure. Instead, follow the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) principle and create goals that are sustainable. For example, weight loss of 1-4kg a month as suggested by the National Health and Medical Research Council (1,2) is realistic and achievable dependent on your starting weight. However, if you’re expecting to shed 8kg within a month then you need to go back to the drawing board and reconsider your resolutions.
2. Measure your success and celebrate the small victories
Use smaller goals to keep you motivated to pursue your final goal. If your goal going into 2017 is to run a half marathon, then celebrate the milestones along the way. The first time you break the 10km barrier is a great feeling! And don’t forget there are other ways to measure your success beyond stepping on the scale. Exercise journals are a brilliant way to record improvements by recording each exercise session with as much detail as possible. It’s a great way to review the results later and see how your results have improved over time.
3. Create an exercise plan and take it slow
As a physio the biggest barrier we see to achieving New Year resolutions is the need to ‘go hard or go home’. The sudden increase in intensity and frequency of exercise from a previously sedentary lifestyle can result in a range of overuse injuries that could have been easily avoided. So, remember to take it slow! If you’ve never walked for more than 30-45 minutes before, then make sure you can do this 3-5 times a week without injury before you consider adding in some running. And whilst classes are a great way to exercise and brilliant fun, don’t jump into 10 classes per week to make the most out of your new gym membership; you will crash and burn! Try 1-2 of the more gentle exercise classes first and slowly build from there.
4. Take up an exercise you love
Some people have an incredible ability to run long distances without breaking a sweat, and then there are people like me. So if you just can’t get into the gym or into running, it’s ok! There is a type of exercise out there for everyone. Last year I started playing field hockey at a low-grade competitive level and absolutely loved it! Along with running ~4km 1-2 times per week at training, I was running 8km on game day and barely even noticed it. The best part of about team sport is that your teammates will always keep you accountable and motivated to exercise. So if hockey isn’t your thing, why not swimming or badminton? The possibilities are endless!
5. Create a ‘get fit’ home and office culture
Soon enough the work piles on, the year catches up with you, and you are too busy to get to the gym? Equip your office or home with work-out equipment. This has been shown to boost workplace morale, create a healthy exercise culture amongst co-workers, improve productivity and results in less staff sick days (3-5). It’s also a great way to cut out the excuse that you didn’t have time to get there!
6. Schedule in rest
Every time you exercise, your body needs to mentally and physically recover. It is advisable to have two or more rest days per week, with less than two days rest leading to a 5 times greater risk of overuse injury (6). It’s important to never underestimate the power of a good nights’ sleep!
Lastly, there is no exercise routine that will suit everyone. So make sure you consult with your GP, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to create a plan that will be suited to your abilities and tailored to your goals. Good luck and kick some goals!
1. National Health and Medical Research Council. (2013). Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children. Melbourne: National Health and Medical Research Council.
2. Diehr, P., O’Meara, E. S., Fitzpatrick, A., Newman, A. B., Kuller, l., & Burke, G. (2008). Weight, mortality, years of healthy life, and active life expectancy in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc, 56(1), 76-83.
3. Baicker, K., Cutler, D., & Song, Z. (2010). Workplace wellness programs can generate savings. Health Affairs. 29(2), 1-8.
4. Goetzel, R. Z, & Ozminkowski, R. J. (2008). The health and cost benefits of work site health-promotion programs. Annu Rev Public Health. 29, 303-323.
5. Mills, P. R., Kessler, R. C., Cooper, J., & Sullivan, S. (2007). Impact of a health promotion program on employee health risks and work productivity. Am J Health Promot, 22(1), 45‐53.
6. Ristolainen, L., Kettunen, J. A., Waller, B., Heinonen, A., & Kujala, U. M. (2014). Training-related risk factors in the etiology of overuse injuries in endurance sports. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 54(1), 78-87.