Bite-sized goals the key to new year fitness targets

Australians vowing to transform from couch potato to elite athlete in 2024 have been warned to keep their fitness goals achievable or risk disappointment.

Health and fitness ambitions are popular new year resolutions but are notoriously tough to stick to.

Surveying by health and nutrition app MyFitnessPal found roughly three quarters of Australians set new year resolutions but only one in 10 stick to them until December.

Flinders University associate professor Ivanka Prichard said it was important to set smaller goals, such as running a couple of times a week, to obtain an all-important sense of achievement early on.

The head of the Embrace Impact Hub at the university told AAP smaller goals could be used to build up to bigger overarching targets, such as a specific running race or hiking trail.

Psychologist, nutritionist and fitness expert Leanne Hall said the concept of a new year resolution was outdated and could “actually do more harm than good”.

“While the start of a new year is a great opportunity to rethink our health and wellbeing, setting resolutions that are too big and unsustainable can have the opposite effect, making us feel like we’ve failed if we don’t maintain them,” Ms Hall said.

She said humans were habitual creatures and embedding healthy habits into daily routines was the key to meeting bigger goals.

Prof Prichard also recommended easing gently into any new routine to avoid injuries and long-term setbacks, as well as focusing on physical activity that people actually enjoy.

“When people enjoy it, it’s one of the best motivations to continue,” she said.

Social types may prefer an activity where they can chat with friends, whereas other may relish time alone with a solitary pursuit.

A survey of resolutions by comparison website Finder found 39 per cent planned to eat healthier, 36 per cent vowed to improve their fitness regime, and 33 per cent pledged to lose weight this year.

Personal finances were another key area of self-improvement, with 54 per cent aiming to save more money in 2024.

Nearly 15 per cent said they would seek to increase their earnings, and 13 per cent aimed to build an emergency fund.


Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)


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