As the calendar resets, it’s time again to think about what we want to achieve in the form of New Year’s resolutions. This year is different, though, as COVID-19 has followed us into 2021. The lockdown experience has limited people’s capacity to be as active as they’d like, and while restrictions don’t seem to be easing anytime soon, people are still keen on making up for lost time.
The pandemic has created a sense of urgency around exercising, and many are confident in their ability to act on it. At a time like this, exercising well can be incredibly beneficial. We surveyed over 1,200 respondents to gather insight into what new goals respondents want to achieve, their confidence level regarding them, and the obstacles that might make or break their health-related journeys.
Starting off on the Right Foot
As we welcome the New Year, let’s take a look at how COVID-19 has affected people’s resolutions choices.
From 2020 to 2021, there had been a 9% increase in respondents’ New Year’s resolution plans – they had at least one goal they wanted to tackle starting January 1. The top four most popular resolution categories revolved around physical well-being: exercise (66%), fitness (56%), physical health (50%), and diet (46%). Men and women valued them similarly, and 88% of respondents, in general, were looking to act on a health-related resolution. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the added stress and anxiety that the pandemic has brought upon us, some healthy ways of coping include exercising regularly and eating well-balanced meals.
The pandemic has tremendously affected people’s resolutions as a whole. About two-thirds of respondents claimed the pandemic had some sort of impact on their goals, and over half admitted it had affected their overall choice of resolution. One-third believed the pandemic itself caused them to work toward a resolution. Fifty-one percent attributed their pandemic-related resolutions toward being active (due to being cooped up for so long) and losing weight gained (due to lack of exercise). One study suggested that 22% of adults have gained weight during the pandemic due to various challenges and disruptions – so, the popularity in health-related resolutions may be unsurprising.
People seem to have a relatively positive outlook on achieving their goals, but their lack of motivation might complicate things.
As many were eager to start off the New Year on the right foot, 51% of respondents began tackling their goals on the first day of 2021. Generally, 68% of them were confident that their resolutions were trending in the right direction. When weighing their confidence, the majority (37%) were somewhat confident in their ability to reach their goals – 91% percent of those who started on New Year’s Day fell into this category. Most people had a positive mindset – 31% were confident, and 16% were very confident, while only the remaining 16% were neutral or lacked confidence. Moreover, those with exercise-related resolutions felt more assured in their quest toward goal completion.
Although 85% of respondents believed they were somewhat likely to conquer their objective, and over half believed they would fully achieve it, resolution results from 2020 told a different story. Forty percent claimed they partially reached their 2020 goal, while only 18% said they fully achieved it. A considerable number admitted to already losing momentum, not progressing as much as they would have liked, or simply failing to put in enough effort. Nine percent had given up entirely. One of the main reasons people lose sight of their goals is because they aren’t specific enough – wanting to “lose weight” or “exercise more” are hard goals to track diligently because they are vague and tend to lead toward a lack of motivation.
Respondents are looking to get into shape – how effective are their preferred methods in doing so?
Taking a closer look at health-related resolutions, losing fat and eating more healthy food were the top two goals. Again, men and women valued them very similarly. In order to reach their targets, stretching, running and jogging, and full-body exercises were the most popular methods employed. Slightly more women preferred stretching than men, and 10% more men preferred running or jogging than women.
Stretching is a low-impact exercise that anyone can do, but can it contribute to weight loss? First of all, stretching can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Using it as a coping mechanism instead of, for example, having a snack can help curb unhealthy eating habits. Jogging and running burn more calories than stretching and are also a great way to lose weight. Specifically, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is recommended. HIIT workouts usually range between 10 and 30 minutes and involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by a small recovery period (e.g., running on a treadmill at high speed for 30 seconds, followed by a one minute recovery walk) – this is repeated numerous times. Lastly, full-body exercises are also conducive toward fat loss. Experts suggest doing them twice a week, especially if you are also dieting in order to stimulate muscle tissues while operating on a caloric deficit.
More on Resolutions
Our study explored health-related resolutions further, while also assessing the impact of specificity and confidence of action plans and goals.
Before respondents began acting on their health-related resolutions, some had already been engaging in activities that promote well-being. Fifty-six percent had been regularly exercising, 51% participated in some sort of recurring physical activity, and 49% had been maintaining healthy eating habits. Only 20% weren’t acting on any of the aforementioned lifestyle choices. The main reason getting into better shape was a common resolution theme, according to 61% of respondents, was quite simply to become healthier in general. It’s no secret that exercising and healthy eating have tons of benefits, including weight control, protection against diseases, and better sleep.
Women were more focused on their self-esteem than men were, resulting in them being 25% more likely to have health-related resolutions. On the topic of body image, girls tend to be more critical of themselves, which can lead to lower confidence and self-esteem issues. They were also more motivated than men to become healthier in general.
Regarding people’s plan to achieve their resolution and the resolution itself, most agreed that they were somewhat specific, which, as we know, is important to achieving results. Forty-three percent of respondents with highly specific plans were also highly confident in their ability to reach their goals, and the same can be said for 49% of people with highly specific resolutions.
Sticking to the Plan
Although many people’s 2020 resolutions didn’t go quite as planned, a vast number are looking to bounce back. While the pandemic dampened people’s spirits and limited access to exercise facilities and programs, the overwhelming majority of respondents are looking to get fit and are confident in their ability to do so. Motivation and proper planning are imperative to realizing these goals.
When setting a concrete goal, we are able to work toward a specific objective and feel a sense of accomplishment when it is completed. Traversing a journey in which you can quantify results leads to higher motivation and drive to move on to the next challenge. If being regimented and dedicated appeals to you, the knowledgeable personnel at Fitrated.com can help you find the right fitness equipment and services to start your own journey and confidently conquer your 2021 New Year’s resolutions.
Methodology and Limitations
We surveyed 2,023 respondents in total, with a primary sample of 1,203 respondents who reported on their New Year’s resolutions. Among those 1,203 respondents, 601 reported about all of their New Year’s resolutions, and 602 respondents reported specifically about their health-related resolutions. A representative sample of male and female respondents were surveyed, and respondents were not screened based on their gender.
In order to help ensure accurate responses, all respondents were required to identify and correctly respond to a decoyed attention-check question. Questions and answers have been paraphrased or rephrased in some cases for clarity or brevity. These data rely on self-reporting. Potential issues with self-reported data include telescoping, selective memory, and attribution errors.
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