Making a New Year Resolution appears to be falling out of favour amongst Britons, with only one in four of us resolving to change a behavioural trait or accomplish a personal goal this January. This is according to new research, launched today (27th December 2017) by Better leisure centres.

Of those who are still planning to make a resolution, over half admit their good intentions tend to last less than a month and only 5% are anticipating a permanent lifestyle change. The key to resolution success is considered to be realistic goal setting (52%) a proactive attitude (42%) and supportive family and friends (29%).

Londoners buck the national trend when it comes to making new resolutions this year. Whereas the majority of Brits cite exercising more (49%) and losing weight (49%) as the two most common goals for 2018, Londoners are more likely to say they want to reduce their alcohol intake or give up drinking (53%) or eat more healthily (52%).

Top ten New Year’s Resolutions 2018*

  1. Exercising and getting fitter
  2. Losing weight
  3. Saving money
  4. Eating more healthily
  5. Cutting down on or giving up alcohol
  6. Taking up a new hobby
  7. Learning a new language
  8. Changing job
  9. Buying a new house

The survey also shows that we are increasingly relying on technology to keep us focussed and motivated when exercising. Two fifths (38%) of respondents will be using a fitness tracker or app when they work out, with the figure rising to 61% of 24-35yr olds.

However, despite our good intentions and the benefits of state-of-the-art technology, weak willed Brits have also thought up a plethora of reasons to avoid exercising. Perhaps influenced by the recent cold snap, a quarter (25%) of those  polled said they had used the excuse of cold weather or the dark nights to avoid exercising, with younger respondents (35 per cent of 18-24yr olds) the most likely to be put off, compared to just 14% of the hardy 64-75yr olds.  Lack of confidence is seen as a key reason not to exercise by 28% of 18-24yr olds, compared to just 4% of over 75yrs.  While over one in ten (12%) are tempted off the ‘straight and narrow’ by a favourite TV show or the chance to join friends in the pub!

Britain’s favourite exercise excuses*

  1. It’s cold and dark outside
  2. I don’t feel confident enough
  3. I don’t have anyone to exercise with
  4. I don’t want to get hot and sweaty
  5. I don’t want to miss my favourite TV programme
  6. My friends are in the pub so I’m going to join them
  7. I couldn’t decide what to wear
  8. I forgot my earphones

Commenting on the findings Marco Coppola Head of Health and Fitness at Better leisure centres said: “Whether we make formal New Year’s resolutions or not, we all know that after Christmas indulgences, January is the month that has many of us focus on improving our health and fitness. At Better leisure centres we see an increase of up to 60% in the numbers of people joining our leisure centres and gyms, with 31st January being the busiest sign up day of the year.

“Yet we also know, sticking to a health kick or fitness regime takes tenacity and determination, the call of a comfy sofa or a convivial pub is always there. Our advice is to try and exercise with friends, take up an activity you genuinely enjoy or work with a personal trainer or coach to give yourself the best chance of success.”

Psychologist Leon Poppelwell added: “New Year’s resolutions are a chance to give yourself a fresh start on a blank canvas. Generally speaking, the end of the year involves a period of self-reflection and offers the chance of new found hope and motivation. To help harness this, a New Year’s Resolution provides the perfect opportunity to put this motivation into practice. To add value to the resolution and to make it successful it needs to be achievable. Very few of us have the strength to ‘eat no chocolate at all’ from the off, so to take small steps to reach your goal  Cut half of your chocolate consumption for January and again by another half for February and so on.”

New Year Resolutions in various forms have taken place for centuries. The Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.  The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.  In the Medieval era, the knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.  For early Christians, the first day of the New Year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future.