New Year’s Resolution Effect

The New Year's Resolution Effect

Every January, gyms and fitness centers flood with new members and enthusiastic workout-goers. But by February, the crowds start to thin out. This phenomenon is known as the “New Year’s Resolution Effect.”

According to research, gym attendance drops significantly after the first six to eight weeks of the year. So, what’s causing this? We take a closer look at the reasons behind the drop in gym attendance and offer tips for overcoming the New Year’s Resolution Effect.

American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine points out that a specific method for setting goals, called the SMART-EST method, can be effective in helping patients make and achieve lifestyle changes in the field of lifestyle medicine. The SMART-EST method stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Enjoyable, Social, and Tracker. The study found that this method made patients more likely to stick to their lifestyle changes and achieve their goals. As a result, healthcare professionals in lifestyle medicine can use the SMART-EST method to help patients make and achieve lifestyle changes for better health outcomes.

Studies have shown that when healthcare professionals provide written prescriptions for lifestyle changes along with counseling, patients are more likely to make and maintain lifestyle changes in lifestyle medicine.

Unrealistic Goals

The Number One Motivation Slayer

Many of us start the new year with big plans to get in shape. We set ambitious goals for ourselves, like losing 20 pounds in one month or running a marathon without training. These goals may seem achievable at the moment, but they often set us up for disappointment and discouragement.

A study by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that people who set realistic and specific goals for themselves are more likely to stick to their exercise routine and achieve their fitness goals. 

A 2020 paper in the American Journal of Public Health revealed that over the past decades, major public health campaigns have aimed for the “elimination” or “zero” occurrence of certain diseases and risk factors, despite their persistent nature. However, despite the unchanging aspect of these diseases and risk factors for many years, these campaigns continue to set unrealistic, impossible goals.

Is it fair to raise false hope and divert resources towards unattainable goals? And if so, what are the consequences for the public’s trust and the overall effectiveness of public health efforts? It is an urgent question that needs addressing to ensure the success and integrity of future public health campaigns.

There needs to be more than just setting a goal to change your health habits to make the change happen.

Lack of Consistency

The Number Two Motivation Slayer 

Another reason for the drop in gym attendance is a need for more consistency. It’s easy to start a new exercise routine with enthusiasm, but it can be tough to stick to it long-term. 

The paper published in The Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews found that regular morning exercise can benefit people with obesity. The study found that people who exercised in the morning had a higher chance of sticking to their exercise routine and reported higher levels of motivation. ESSR study suggests that for people with obesity, a consistent and scheduled morning exercise routine may be an effective strategy for improving their exercise habits and overall health. It’s worth noting that the time of exercise is personalized, and a consistent schedule is more important than the time.

Lack of Accountability

The Number Three Motivation Slayer 

Many people find it challenging to stick to a workout routine when they are not held accountable by a trainer, workout buddy, or romantic partner.

A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships in 2021 found that exercising with a romantic partner can positively impact exercise behavior and motivation. The study found that people who exercised with their romantic partners tended to stick to their exercise routine and reported higher motivation levels. The study suggests that for people looking to improve their exercise habits, exercising with a romantic partner can be an effective strategy,

One more reason why it’s important to have accountability partners or a personal trainer who can help keep you on track and motivated. 

Lack of Tracking

The Number Four Motivation Slayer 

Tracking your progress is essential for achieving your fitness goals. Monitoring is necessary to know if you’re making progress and may lead to losing motivation. Setting goals, tracking your progress, and celebrating your achievements are critical to staying motivated and on track to reach your goals.

At the International World Wide Web Conference, a case study of MyFitnessPal, which presented a large-scale of 1.4 million users and weight loss goals, found that using an activity tracking app, such as MyFitnessPal, can effectively set and achieve fitness goals. The study found that people who used the app were more likely to set and achieve their fitness goals and that goal-setting features in the app were positively associated with goal achievement. The study suggests that for people looking to improve their fitness, an activity-tracking app like MyFitnessPal can be a helpful tool for setting and achieving their fitness goals.

Overcoming the New Year’s Resolution Effect

The New Year’s Resolution Effect, a commonly observed phenomenon in gyms and fitness centers worldwide, is characterized by a decline in gym attendance following the initial surge of new memberships and attendance in January.

By understanding the underlying factors that contribute to this phenomenon, individuals can take proactive measures to increase the likelihood of attaining their fitness goals.

A study published in the IAAP: Applied Phycology: Health and Well-Being suggest that when it comes to achieving New Year’s resolutions, it can be helpful to set both big, overall goals (called superordinate goals) and smaller, specific goals (called subordinate goals). This way, you can break down your overall goal into smaller and more manageable steps, making it easier to stay motivated and on track. In addition, the study found that people who set both goals put more effort towards achieving them and were more successful in the long run. So, if you’re looking to make your New Year’s resolutions stick, try setting both short- and long-term goals to help you stay motivated and achieve your goals.

Here are a few tips to help you overcome the New Year’s Resolution Effect:

  • Set realistic and specific goals for yourself
  • Find an accountability partner or hire a personal trainer
  • Track your progress and celebrate your achievements
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a workout or fall off track

If you’re looking for daily accountability, inspiration, tips, and support join the Dad Bod Transformation community on Facebook. Our coaches are always happy to help and provide personalized support.

In conclusion, The New Year’s Resolution Effect is a common phenomenon in gyms and fitness centers worldwide. A combination of unrealistic goals, lack of consistency, and lack of accountability cause it. Setting realistic goals, tracking progress, and having accountability partners or a personal trainer can help to overcome these challenges and maintain motivation over the long term.

Our review process for this article:

Here at IAM, we ensure that all the information we provide is reliable and accurate. We base our content on research from reputable sources such as studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We don’t use unreliable sources.


Goal Setting and Action Planning for Health Behavior Change

Using the SMART-EST Goals in Lifestyle Medicine Prescription

Making New Year’s Resolutions that Stick: Exploring how Superordinate and Subordinate Goals Motivate Goal Pursuit

On Knowingly Setting Unrealistic Goals in Public Health

Better together: The impact of exercising with a romantic partner

Daily goal progress is facilitated by spousal support and promotes psychological, physical, and relational well-being throughout adulthood

Consistent Morning Exercise May Be Beneficial For Individuals with Obesity

Goal-setting And Achievement In Activity Tracking Apps: A Case Study Of MyFitnessPal

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