Last year Time Magazine named losing weight and getting in shape as the most commonly named New Years Resolutions and also the one most frequently broken. Why? Well, it seems that your good intentions to get out and exercise are not enough. Most people view lack of exercise as a motivational problem but that is not necessarily the case. Instead it is a strong lack of countermotivation NOT to exercise that could be your stumbling block. Countermotivations include wanting to spend more time with friends or family; getting work done; and/or avoiding the anticipated pain, fatigue, injury or embarrassment of not succeeding. For those of you reading this and thinking,…”yep that’s me,” I encourage you to get out that old bicycle of yours polish up the frame, pump up the tires and get riding.
Make Bicycling a Friend and Family Affair
The beauty of biking to exercise your new years resolution is that it responds to any of the potential countermotivations that might be standing in your way. Bicycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise because you can ride a bicycle almost anywhere, at any time of the year. Most of us learned to ride our bikes when we were young so it a common activity that you can participate in with your friends and family. And with all of the new bike trailer attachments for toddlers everyone in the family can take part in ride. Plus with more than 12 million children and adolescents in the U.S. considered obese a daily bike ride could easily mitigate this disturbing trend.
Biking and Your Health
Further cycling is one of the more gentle physical activities you can participate in. It’s easy on your joints and lower body. Bicycling is one of the best overall ways to get exercise because it provides endurance and aerobic training. Bicycling improves your cardio-vascular fitness, burns approximately 300 calories per hour, improves heart health – cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%, it improves coordination arm to leg, feet to hands, body to eye and reduces stress.
Your New Years Commitment
Making the commitment to ride your bike and follow through on your 2012 health and fitness goals will take setting realistic expectations for yourself. Ask yourself these two questions: “In your ideal world, how much time would you dedicate to riding your bike in a week?” Then ask yourself, “How much time do you think you will have for riding your bike this week?” The ability to contrast your ideal world with your real world will allow you to recognize any potential conflicts and allow you to set a realistic cycling plan you can stick to.
BE A Proactive Pessimist
Recognizing your potential obstacles and creating a plan of action to overcome them is called proactive pessimism. In a recent study 256 women who were interested in becoming more active were put to the test. Half the women were told very little about healthy lifestyle the other half were asked to journal daily about the following questions:
1. What is your most important exercise goal?
2. What would be the most positive outcomes of meeting this goal?
3. What is the biggest obstacle to this goal?
Then they answered these three questions about the obstacle:
a. When and where is the obstacle most likely to occur?
b. What can I do to prevent the obstacle from occurring?
c. What specific thing will I do to help get back to my exercise goal when this obstacle happens?
Completing this exercise doubled the average amount of time participants spent exercising each week from 46 minutes to 103 minutes. The change started the very first week and lasted all the way through the 4-month follow up.
Finally, challenge yourself with a bit of healthy guilt. Research shows that anticipating how much you’ll regret skipping a workout can motivate you above and beyond imagining your positive outcomes. Ask yourself, “How will I feel tomorrow about the decision I made today?”
Find your Sticktuitiveness
When it comes to New Years Resolutions 2012 honor your motivation, be open to your motivation as well as your countermotivations. Setting realistic goals for yourself allows you the best chance of sticking to them and achieving success.
See you on the bike path!