Come January, 40 percent of Americans will make New Years resolutions, and nearly half of them will aim to lose weight or get in shape.
New Year's Resolutions<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjM2Njk1OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMDI4NTY2Nn0.VgmKCnrKcicGuad8WPhQsi300nAZ1JELOvCH25joluo/img.png?width=980" id="bfdb8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8b9f8989c81af7422db2529681f35b1f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Nearly half of all respondents in a poll about 2018 New Year's resolutions wanted to lose weight or get in shape. Statistica / The Conversation / CC-BY-ND
Motivation and Short-Term Objectives<p>Years back, when I was at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of the sports psychologists told me that motivation is a lie.</p><p>It took me years of experience and research to figure out why, but I believe she was right.</p><p>Personally, I have no issues getting up on a cold and dark morning to train when a competition is drawing near. But when there is no immediate objective or goal in site, getting up that early is much harder.</p><p>Motivation is driven by emotion and that can be positive, as long as it <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S0959-4388(96)80077-8" target="_blank">is used for a short-term objective</a>. For some, a New Year's resolution can serve as a motivator. But since <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fundamental-four/201205/emotions-and-motivations" target="_blank">motivation is based on emotion</a>, it can't last long.</p>
Discipline Yields Results<p>If motivation won't help you reach your goals, what will?</p><p>The answer is discipline. Discipline, as I define it, is the ability to do what is necessary for success when it is hardest to do so. Another way to think of it is having the ability, not necessarily the desire, to do what you need to when you least want to.</p><p>Failure to get up when the alarm rings, the inability to walk away from a late night of partying before game day or eating a doughnut when you have committed to no processed sugar are all failures of discipline - not motivation.</p><p>The keys to discipline are practice and consistency. Discipline means repetitive – and sometimes boring – action. There are no shortcuts. You can thank motivation for the first three weeks or so of your successful gym attendance, but after that you need to credit discipline.</p><p>There is another clear line defining the difference between motivation and discipline. Motivation in and of itself typically fails to build other qualities necessary for advancement, but discipline does. Discipline <a href="https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=hy9mDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT11&dq=Discipline+builds+confidence&ots=ga0Vo8UNjY&sig=wsZ-N4x6NhasmmAnbGb610pbt3Y#v=onepage&q=Discipline%20builds%20confidence&f=false" target="_blank">develops confidence</a> and patience.</p><p>Discipline builds consistency and consistency yields habits. It is those habits that, in the end, will ultimately define success.</p>
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Walk or Run<p>For those who don't have access to a cardio machine over the holidays, the solution is straightforward.</p><p>Do your cardio routine the old-fashioned way and go outside for a walk or run.</p><p>"If you're traveling somewhere where it's warm and you can go outside to walk or jog or anything like that, it's a nice option," <a href="https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/sports-medicine/team/physical-therapists/dr-ebner" target="_blank">D.R. Ebner</a>, PT, SCS, a physical therapist at The Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, told Healthline.</p><p>Even if it's chilly outside, bundling up and going for a brisk stroll is a good way to walk off that rich <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/christmas" rel="noopener noreferrer">Christmas</a> dinner and take in the lights while shedding some calories in the process.</p><p>A 20-minute walk can cover about a mile, which can burn off about <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/walking-for-weight-loss#section3" target="_blank">100 calories</a>, depending on a person's sex and weight.</p>
Resistance Bands<p>It's tough to take a weight training routine on the road.</p><p>It just isn't practical to pack bulky, heavy dumbbells into your luggage and there's no guarantee that your holiday destination will have alternatives.</p><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercises/easy-resistance-band-exercises" target="_blank">Resistance bands</a> may not be able to provide the same heavy lifting workout as dumbbells, but they do offer something similar in a lightweight form that can fit into the palm of your hand.</p><p>"The easiest thing that anyone can do, as most research has shown, is resistance training, which helps increase metabolic rate," said Zarabi. "It doesn't mean you need to go to a gym and use a machine or lift dumbbells. Resistance bands, which are easily portable, are something you can throw in your luggage. They come in different colors for different intensity levels."</p>
Create a Stop-Gap Program<p>Anyone who has a daily fitness routine knows that traveling can throw things into chaos.</p><p>Rather than struggling to replicate your current program, or haphazardly fit workouts into your day, Ebner says it's helpful to establish a new routine for the days you're away from home.</p><p>This might entail doing exercises you don't usually do or adapting to your surroundings.</p><p>"You may not have a ton of space," he said. "But you can do workouts like pushups, jumping jacks, and situps."</p><p>"You can do, for instance, 10 pushups, and then some bodyweight squats and some lunges," Ebner noted. "You can repeat that two or three times and commit 10 or 15 minutes to it. Work hard, but keep it sustainable."</p>
Look Online<p>To add to his point of adapting to different surroundings, Ebner suggests going online to look for inspiration.</p><p>"On YouTube, there are all kinds of workout videos — anything from yoga to calisthenics," he said.</p><p>"If you're trying to fit an exercise in and you're not sure what to do, you can find guided routines where it's all spelled out for you and you can follow along," he added. "You don't have to overthink it."</p>
Don’t Sweat It<p>Even if there's enough space and equipment to work out, sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day when you factor in the social commitments of the holiday season.</p><p>Zarabi says it's good to approach the season with a goal not of losing weight, but maintaining your current weight.</p><p>This strategy even allows for some indulgences, provided they're reasonable.</p><p>"I always like to enforce the 80/20 rule: be good 80 percent of the time and enjoy the desserts and holiday treats 20 percent of the time," she explained. "Indulging on Christmas Day or at holiday parties is not enough to derail you from your lifestyle. It's the accumulation of what you do over the long term that really impacts your weight loss efforts."</p><p>Following the indulgent, or over-indulgent festive season, many of us make New Year's resolutions in an effort to improve things moving forward.</p><p>Instead of setting lofty goals for the new year, Zarabi suggests a more measured approach.</p><p>"If your resolution is better health, don't make it about the number on the scale," she said. "A lot of us judge ourselves by a size or weight, disregarding the fact that we can fluctuate 5 to 7 pounds after a dinner party. It's best to weigh yourself first thing in the morning at a dry weight and try not to obsess over the marker."</p><p>"I think that people need to be a little more forgiving of themselves and just get back to the basics the next day, instead of waiting for the magic to happen on New Year's Day," she added.</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By George Citroner
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the World Health Organization currently recommend either 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (walking, gardening, doing household chores) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming) every week.
But there's little research looking at the benefits, if any, of exercising less than the 75 minute minimum.
How Far and for How Long to See Benefits?<p>It's unknown how much running or for how long is needed to reap health benefits, according to researchers. Also unknown is whether increasing how often, fast, and long we run can affect our risk of death from disease.</p><p>"To solve the conundrum, we thoroughly searched the scientific literature for studies on this topic and formally combined their results," lead study author <a href="https://www.vu.edu.au/research/zeljko-pedisic" target="_blank">Zeljko Pedisic,</a> PhD, associate professor at Victoria University, Australia, told Healthline.</p><p>Pedisic and a team at the university's <a href="https://www.vu.edu.au/research/institute-for-health-sport" target="_blank">Institute for Health and Sport</a> reviewed relevant published research, conference presentations, and doctoral theses and dissertations in a broad range of academic databases.</p><p>"Findings of individual studies on running and the risk of death were inconsistent. While most found beneficial effects of running, some did not find statistically significant associations. Even among those that found positive associations, the effect sizes largely varied," said Pedisic.</p><p>They found 14 suitable studies that analyzed the association between running and the risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Combined, the studies involved more than 232,000 people who had been tracked for up to 35 years.</p><p>The findings indicate that any amount of running is associated with a 27 percent lower risk of death from all causes for men and women when compared with no running at all.</p>
Reduced Risk of Death From Heart Disease and Cancer<p>Running was also associated with a 30 percent lower risk of death from CVD and an impressive 23 percent reduced risk of dying from cancer. However, researchers found no evidence that increasing time spent exercising was associated with any further reduction in the risk of death from any cause.</p><p>Most surprising is that even running less than once per week, for under an hour and at less than 6 miles per hour still conferred improved health and longevity, according to researchers.</p><p>"It is interesting that we found such benefits even for relatively small amounts of running, such as 1 day a week or 50 minutes a week. Moreover, we found no evidence that the benefits significantly increase or decrease with higher doses of running," said Pedisic.</p><p>This means that even exercising for about half the recommended minimum time per week can meaningfully reduce our risk of death. This could make running an ideal activity for those of who want to stay healthy but are short on time.</p>
Adds to Evidence from Previous Studies<p>In a 2014 <a href="https://www.acc.org/about-acc/press-releases/2014/07/29/09/32/leisure-running-jacc-pr" target="_blank">study</a>, researchers studied over 55,000 adults over a 15-year period to determine the relationship between running and longevity.</p><p>They drew their data from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025619614007988" target="_blank">Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study</a>, which involved having participants complete a questionnaire about their running habits. Of this group, 24 percent, reported running as part of their leisure-time exercise.</p><p>The runners had experienced a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke compared to non-runners. The runners also lived 3 years longer on average than those who didn't run.</p><p>"The opposite of exercise is sedentary habits. The more you move and the more active you are the less your risk of disease," said Chang</p><p>Similar to Pedisic's findings, this study showed that people who ran fewer than 51 minutes, less than 6 miles, and slower than 6 miles per hour, only one to two times per week had a much lower risk of dying compared to those who didn't run.</p><p>"Since time is one of the strongest barriers to participate in physical activity, the study may motivate more people to start running and continue to run as an attainable health goal for mortality benefits," said study author <a href="https://www.kin.hs.iastate.edu/directory/profile.php?u=dclee&embedded=true" target="_blank">DC (Duck-Chul) Lee</a>, PhD, associate professor in the Iowa State University Kinesiology Department in a <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140728162330.htm" target="_blank">statement</a>.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>A new study finds that running much less than the amount experts currently recommend can still significantly reduce the risk of death from cancer and heart disease.</p><p>These findings are good news for people who feel they don't have enough time to exercise — since even small, infrequent bouts of running have shown health benefits.</p><p>Experts emphasize that the more active you are, the less you run the risk of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.</p>
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By Tina Benitez
Depression can take both a physical and mental toll on the body. But now experts say that staying active may help offset some of these symptoms, providing relief to the millions of people dealing with depression.
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Fitness tracking apps and personal step counters like Fitbit often prescribe walking 10,000 steps per day as a benchmark for achieving better health, but longevity benefits may kick in well before that for older women, a new study has found.
If you're stuck for plans this weekend, we suggest escaping your city or town for the great outdoors.