How to make 2017 work for you

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Wait for it – health and fitness-related businesses will start pumping the marketing very soon if they haven’t already, to lure the procrastinating and somewhat guilty feeling masses off the back of all the ‘this year’ declarations.

It is a real statistic that 75 percent of people don’t keep their New Year fitness resolutions past April.  
It’s a sad truth that modern life doesn’t offer up enough stimulus for our muscles, bones and organs to remain healthy any more.  So we have to artificially create that stimulus and it’s usually called a fitness centre or a personal trainer.  

The second truth is that human beings were never meant to like exercise.  Yes, there are athletes who thrive on it and a subset that love marathon running. However, most human beings will biologically steer away from discomfort and exertion – it’s the human body’s survival instinct, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s difficult for most people to stay a healthy level of fit.

Every day of our lives used to involve at least a bit of walking as a means of transportation, some level of strength training lifting or moving things and usually some point in the day of high intensity as we ran from or chased something.  Even as late as the 1970s most kids cycled to school, and now that is the exception not the rule, and you will have heard it before; it’s not the human body biology that has changed but our environment.

A third, vital truth is that unless as a human being, you do enough to stay a healthy level of fit your body will become maladaptive due to the lack of activity.  Hello then to all those mostly preventable, inconvenient, debilitating and life restricting ‘lifestyle-related’ diseases that one would think a big enough reason to become a regular exerciser.

The fourth truth that has been forced upon us by the 21st Century is that it is no longer good enough not to exercise.  It’s become every person’s responsibility to their health and to those they care about to seek out ways to put that activity back in everyday life to avoid preventable disease.

So how to start?
So often the reason given for not exercising is a lack of energy so perhaps correcting this may be the best place to start in the New Year. One of the healthiest things you can do for yourself is to get more sleep. One study even showed that getting only 5-6 hours per night as opposed to 7-9 hours increased the likelihood of obesity by a whopping 73 percent.  So maybe the way to start to get into shape would be to sleep more.  No kidding.

One thing that isn’t well publicised is that it’s somewhat healthier to be fit and overweight, than lean and can’t fight your way out of a paper bag. Also, the fat around the organs is hideously dangerous to health, whereas the fat around the backside is not and has little bearing on health or physical performance, just the way shorts fit; think Serena Williams versus Maria Sharapova. So focus on fitness first and the rest should follow.

Studies also show that committing to one simple goal yields around a 75 percent success rate, setting two goals at once this drops to around 45 percent and if you attempt to change three things at once you are only 15 percent likely to succeed.

So maybe the best New Year resolution to make is to get some blackout curtains and go to sleep earlier (Game of Thrones is not as important as your health). Then start to wake up refreshed and earlier and go for a regular walk.

And by the time you get to April feeling more rested and a bit fitter, then you can join the gym or call that trainer.  It’s a matter of working with probability, science, biology and environmental conditions, not a lack of willpower.

So off you go and get started on those healthy New Year’s resolutions and go to sleep.

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