It’s almost June 1 and Summer is coming fast. 2017 is now well underway and we’re coming up on the midway mark. Hard to believe, huh? Even more difficult to believe is where you’re at today on those New Year’s resolution goals you made almost six months ago. If you’re one of the dedicated people who stuck to their 2017 resolutions, we applaud you. Studies show that of the estimated 40% of people who make a New Year’s resolution only 8% meet their goal. If you made it this far, you’re a true champion, and we’re sure you’ll keep going strong for the second half of ’17. But, if you’re standing there, on the scale or on the treadmill on June 1, nowhere near your goal of running that 10k or lowering your cholesterol, don’t feel too bad. You’re in good company.
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that people often think it’s the one time of year you can set a goal and go after it. But the fact is every day is a new opportunity to start pursuing a new goal. Jump back into your resolution and you can still beat the odds. If you do, we’re betting you’ll regret not getting started sooner. Six months into your New Year, here are a few tips to help you finish up strong and get back on track with fresh legs.
Start Small — or Short or Slow. Just Start.
A little is a lot more — and a lot better — than nothing. Study after study shows that, when it comes to exercise, doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing at all. And, if you start now, think of how far you’ll have come by Jan. 1, 2018.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that running even 5 to 10 minutes a day and even at slow speeds, i.e. less than 6 miles per hour, was associated with “markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease” and showed “a 3-year life expectancy benefit.” The study’s authors said the results “may motivate healthy but sedentary individuals to begin and continue running for substantial and attainable mortality benefits.”
That means low-intensity jogging for only a few minutes a day could extend your life expectancy by a few years. The minimum daily “dose” of exercise necessary to improve health and fitness is less than beginners may think. The same can be said of walking. According to Harvard Health Publications, walking 2.5 hours a week — which is only 21 minutes a day — can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30 percent.
Basically, the take-home message is this: It’s easy to start. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming or intimidating. It doesn’t require expensive classes or crazy equipment. All you have to do is lace up your shoes in order to get back on track with those New Year’s resolution goals.
Go Beyond Goals; Set a Deadline
Many people find they work better under deadline — and the same can be said of working out under deadline. Maybe one of the reasons your New Year’s resolution goals fizzled is you didn’t have a consequence staring you in the face. Some newbie runners sign up for their first 5k, 10k, half-marathon, triathlon or even marathon (and pay the registration fees) to help kick their butt into gear.
A slew of apps, like the “Couch to 5k” app, can give beginners a set path to build up to running a race, while the Run Half Marathon app gives a structured training plan to intermediate runners. iSmoothRun is best for interval training, which has been gaining attention as a rock star of the workout world. A clinical study published in the journal Cell Metabolism in March 2017 found that 12 weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training actually helped mitochondria in cells — among both young and old study participants, but particularly among the older group — produce more energy, which can help slow down the aging process.
Don’t get us wrong: Goals are great. It’s good to set a tangible, measurable and realistic goal, say, to lose 5 pounds or to run a faster mile. But sometimes it’s better to have a hard deadline.
Drum Up Public Support
We know New Year’s resolution goals go beyond working out. Maybe your goal is to eat healthier, quit smoking, spend less, travel more or get organized. Whatever your 2017 resolutions were, making your renewed efforts public can help resuscitate them. The encouragement you get from friends and family, whether in person or on social media, can help boost your efforts and solidify any of that shaky determination. Going public can also mean joining groups on Facebook or Meetup where you’ll find like-minded people who are pursuing similar goals.
Going public with your intentions can also help with accountability. If you call on your family, friends and coworkers to provide you with both help and support — and a little friendly scolding from time to time — it can keep you engaged and determined. When those who love you know what you’re trying to accomplish and feel empowered to help you, they’ll step up even when you stumble. You can take it even further by finding a resolution buddy, sort of like a sponsor, who will either check in with you a couple times a week or join you on jogs and at the gym.