Q: My New Year’s resolution is to exercise more regularly this year. What are some techniques I can use to help me stay on track?
A: As you already know, persistence is a critical key to success with exercise. Since many folks “join the gym” in January, “fall away” in February, and “might go” in March, the best thing you can do is use some of these examples, which are scientifically proven techniques.
From a health standpoint, having social support is a huge part of staying persistent, healthy and happy. (1,2) Some ways to surround yourself with excellence include…
1. Join a fitness class or club – once you’re there, there’s nearly 100% chance you’ll exercise
2. Commit to exercise with a partner – fosters personal integrity to your word, your friend and your health
3. Get a personal trainer – pre-committing to a trainer enhances success of sticking to it and helps maximize workout efficiency as well as knowledge about your health and fitness
4. Connect with hiking groups – Locally, Tolland has plenty of beautiful trails for folks who love to explore the great outdoors all year long. For more info, go to www.tolland.org and search “hiking”
Reward Your Success
The most fundamental law in all of psychology is the law of effect, which states that actions resulting in rewards are strengthened and likely to recur (3). Here are some ways you can do it
Deposit and Refund Technique –
Give a good friend $500.00 and have him or her return the money in $50 increments for each week you meet your exercise goals. After 10 weeks of consistent exercise, you’ll be well on your way to follow through on your New Year’s resolution.
Deposit and Refund Technique with a Team –
Amplify the reward with support of a few friends, etc. In this case, you and your exercise team give $500.00 to a good friend. Then, this good friend returns the money in $50 increments for each week you and your team members meet your exercise goals. Since everyone needs to do their share, the level of commitment to meeting the goal gets enhanced by team support.
True Health U’s Final Thoughts
Staying on track, especially when getting started in never easy, however, every resolution begins with a motivated person. Making a resolution stick requires turning this motivation into a motivated action.
When you surround yourself with excellence you do just that, you take an action that provides a support mechanism for you. In all 4 excellence techniques mentioned, there will be others around you sharing similar goals and also striving to stay committed. Plus
there’s a bonus – you get to support and inspire others – which is also linked with enhancing motivation. I added the Deposit and Refund techniques for those of you that enjoy having a slightly higher stake in your stick-to-it agenda. These techniques can also be combined, in any manner, for maximal exercise support and
1. House, J.S., Landis, K.R. & Umberson, D. (1988). Social Relationships and Health. Science, 241, 540-545.
2. Kaprio, J., Koskenvou, M., & Rita, H. (1987). Mortality after bereavement: A prospective study of 95, 647
widowed persons. American Journal of Public Health, 77, 283-287.
3. Jefferey, R.W., Gerber, W.M., Rosenthal, B.S., & Lindquist, R.A. (1983). Monetary contracts in weight control: Effectiveness of group and individual contracts of varying size. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51, 242-248.