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How to stick to your fitness resolutions and survive 'Quitter's Day'

'Quitter's Day' is upon us, the day when people are most likely to abandon their New Year's Resolutions. (Getty Images)
'Quitter's Day' is upon us, the day when people are most likely to abandon their New Year's Resolutions. (Getty Images)

The new year always starts with such promise, with hordes of us vowing to smash our health and fitness goals in 2024.

Sadly, our good intentions to up our exercise regime and regularly pick up the dumbbells are unlikely to continue past today.

That's because the second Friday in January (which this year falls on January 12, i.e. today) is 'Quitter's Day', so coined thanks to previous research revealing it is the day when people are most likely to abandon their New Year's resolutions.

While three quarters of have Brits set themselves resolutions for 2024, new research from SunLife revealed over a quarter (28%) will have already given up on their vows before the weekend is out.

In fact, only 15% of people admitted to having stuck with a previous resolution all year-long, with nearly half (46%) giving up by the end of January, and the majority (57%) giving up by the end of February.

Overall, exercising more, reducing stress, and having a healthier diet came out as the top three resolutions for Brits this year. Also popular were reading more, getting organised, drinking less, and seeing family more often.

According to Chantal Gautier, senior lecturer in psychology at University of Westminster people often struggle to stick with a resolution because they put too much pressure on themselves and expect instant results too quickly.

"When these anticipated resolutions don’t materialise fast enough, people lose interest, reverting to their previous habits," she explains.

"What is helpful, is to break down larger objectives into smaller more manageable tasks. This makes the overall goals less overwhelming.

"If for example, you want to improve your level of fitness, then begin with small manageable fitness routines, gradually increasing intensity over time as opposed to plunging directly into a boot camp regime."

She also recommends acknowledging and celebrating small victories and milestones along the way.

"This positive reinforcement can motivate you to continue working toward your bigger goals," she adds.

Finding a workout buddy can help you stay on track with your fitness goals. (Getty Images)
Finding a workout buddy can help you stay on track with your fitness goals. (Getty Images)

How to stick to your fitness resolutions this year

If you're one of the 27% of Brits who vowed to exercise more this year, Gavin Cowper, exercise expert and owner of Exersci, has some other top tips for staying motivated enough to achieving your exercise-related New Year goals.

Find a workout buddy

Research has shown that people are 22% more likely to remain active if they workout with a friend. "The extra motivation an exercise companion provides on days when you’re feeling down, the weather is uninviting, or you’re carrying a knock can prove pivotal when attempting to stick to a routine," Cowper explains.

Join a club

Becoming a member of a running club or football team etc. boosts your chances of remaining active by 46%.

"If you can’t find a friend to workout with, finding new ones at a sports club has proven to be an effective method to stay on track to achieve your goals," Cowper adds.

Make your goals achievable

Arguably the most effective way of staying on track is to set yourself an achievable goal. "Booking in a 10K run, or something equivalent to that, will keep you motivated on the hardest days, and doing this keeps 92% of athletes active for at least 10 months after starting their fitness journey," Cowper explains.

Become a morning person

Exercising before work rather than after means you are 43% more likely to be consistent in your exercise routine.

"Getting up an extra hour or two before work may sound like an impossible task to begin with, but once you have made it a routine, it will soon become the norm," Cowper says.

Woman getting up early to exercise. (Getty Images)
Becoming a morning person and exercising before work is one trick to achieve your fitness goals. (Getty Images)

Build habits into your life

Given how busy and hectic many people’s lives are, finding time to exercise on a regular basis can be difficult. "Building habits into your life such as biking to work, running a 5K on your lunch, or walking your dog further and on a more regular basis can be great ways to achieve a healthier lifestyle," Cowper explains.

Adopt the SMART method

According to experts setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely targets are key to succeeding in your New Year’s resolutions.

"Having the SMART method as a basic, skeletal outline of your resolutions is always advisable," Cowper adds.

Track your progress

While setting one end goal is a good way to keep you motivated, it can be easy to forget about it if it’s far away. To combat this, Cowper suggests making a log of your progress and celebrating the small wins on the way to your final aim.

"It’s key to remember that progress isn’t always linear, though, and it’s perfectly normal to stagnate," he adds.

Finding an exercise class you enjoy can help you stick to your fitness goals. (Getty Images)
Finding an exercise class you enjoy can help you stick to your fitness goals. (Getty Images)

Take the pressure off

The key to maintaining a healthy exercise routine is to enjoy it. "Putting pressure on yourself to do a workout or sport you don’t enjoy is only going to end up in you eventually stopping," Cowper explains.

Instead he suggests choosing something you like and not putting pressure on yourself to progress quickly.

Don't set expectations too high

We’d all love to run a sub-four-hour marathon after only taking up running three months ago, but realistically, attempting to achieve such lofty goals is unfeasible. "For whatever you are taking up, do some research beforehand to see what is achievable for your specific ability and set targets based on that," Cowper advises.

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Watch: Is it harder to commit to a fitness routine than a partner?