Stick to your New Year's resolutions and improve your mental health with exercise

5 January 2021

It’s that time of year again where we kick start January with a plan to keep our New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve promised yourself to be more active in 2021, then you’re certainly not alone. Of the 79% of Australians who made New Year’s resolutions in 2020, over half of them (53%) wanted to lose weight or ramp up their fitness regime.

Whilst increasing your physical activity levels is always a positive for your physical health, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) wants to remind everyone that on top of keeping fit, exercise also promotes better mental well-being which makes sticking to your resolutions even more beneficial.

“We know that many people begin an exercise program thanks to the promises that they made at midnight on New Year’s Eve, only to abandon it by the time Easter arrives. However, remembering the significant impact exercise can have on our mental health too can be a great way to ensure you stick to your resolution,” says Anita Hobson-Powell, ESSA Chief Executive Officer.

Research tells us that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour has been shown to reduce the risk of major depression by 26%. This is because exercise promotes changes in the brain and releases endorphins, the chemicals in our brain that energise us and make us feel good.

“2020 was a year of uncertainty, and while we hope the next 12 months will be more promising, there’s no way to predict what may happen. By ensuring you have effective tools in your toolkit when it comes to dealing with the impact of the pandemic, such as daily exercise habits, you will be setting your mental health up for an improved outcome in 2021,” adds Anita.

A simple way to ensure you stay motivated and stick to your New Year’s resolution is to set small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of just one overwhelming goal that was set on January 1. By jumping straight into a strict exercise regime, you may find that these changes are not sustainable leading to disheartened feelings and the desire to be less active.

You also don’t have to sign-up to the first gym you see advertised at a cheap deal. Although some may prefer to work out in a gym environment, there’s plenty of exercises you can do at home, in the outdoors, or with friends. The Exercise Right website hosts a wide range of at-home workouts, as well as expertly-written blogs with more handy tips.

If you need help creating health and fitness goals in 2021 and are still unsure of where to start or how to exercise right for any conditions you may be living with, get in touch with an ESSA accredited exercise professional today via the ESSA Search Function:

All media enquiries can be directed to