No New Year Resolution? No Problem – CQU experts explain how we can keep track of our physical activity goals for the year
Entering a new year sees many of us eagerly set new goals to achieve' only to perhaps be met with dwindled enthusiasm before the first month of the year has even ended – and according to CQUniversity psychology and physical activity experts' there are reasons why this happens.
CQUniversity Associate Professor of Psychology' Amanda Rebar has a research focus area on behaviour change and explains that a fundamental element towards change starts with a focus shift.
"A great way to follow through on a decision is to focus on a behaviour' rather than an outcome – it needs to be something you can do rather than something you get'" Assoc Prof Rebar explained.
"For example' try to make your goals about doing something – or doing something differently – rather than stopping a particular habit altogether."
The social psychology researcher added that in order to help habits last for the long-term' the goal should be personally applicable' and highlighted the importance of creating safeguards around goal setting as well.
"You won't always be as motivated as you are at the time you make the goal' so make sure you make changes to circumstances and make plans for when you don't feel as committed as you do right then'" she said.
"One of my favourite findings in the literature of habit is that missing a day or two doesn't mean you have failed' or that you have to start over. It's a question of fit' not force' so remember to be kind to yourself and use it as a way to sort out how to make the behaviour change work for you in your life."
CQUniversity physical activity Research Professor and 10'000 Steps Program Lead' Corneel Vandelanotte also added that working towards physical activity goals doesn't have to be burdensome or require additional commitments.
"It is about making small changes to your every routine and being active throughout the day'" Prof Vandelanotte said.
"There are some really achievable' small ways to make big changes in our daily habits' such as taking the stairs rather than the elevator' choosing a carpark that's further away' or getting off the bus a stop or two earlier.
"Even using a push mower to mow a standard backyard for half an hour can add 3'000 steps to your daily count. Another great way is to take up a sport or a social activity – make it fun!"
To assist in making physical activity habits last beyond just a new year's resolution' view the CQUniversity 10'000 Steps team's 'Simple Ways to Make Active Habits Stick'' and Associate Professor Amanda Rebar's video on the psychology behind 'failed resolutions' via 10000steps.org.au.
Users of smartphones and activity trackers (eg. Garmin' Fitbit' Apple Watch) can sync their steps with the 10'000 Steps Program to track their progress over time and compete in new challenges each month.