Spring is a time for transformations. Experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) say this is the perfect time to restart resolutions set, and possibly abandoned, earlier in the year.
Some of the most popular resolutions made are related to losing weight, starting an exercise program or quitting smoking, according to the Journal of Clinical Psychology. UAB Division of Preventive Medicine Associate Professor Gareth Dutton, Ph.D., said these are three beneficial goals for many.
“Long-term and consistent behavior changes like those intended with New Year’s resolutions can help better manage or avoid certain health problems, but they can be challenging because of the time it takes to see results,” Dutton explained.
While losing 50 pounds in a three month period is unlikely, Dutton says there are changes that can be felt more quickly.
Engaging in a bout of moderate-intensity exercise like a brisk walk can immediately reduce one’s blood sugar levels.
“For someone with diabetes or elevated levels, this is an important and immediate benefit,” Dutton said.
There are some immediately noticeable hurdles to making lifestyle changes – like missing out on tasty, high-calorie foods or feeling a withdrawal from cigarette smoking – that add to the challenge of staying on course.
UAB Employee Wellness Director Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., said springtime is a good time of year to evaluate whether or not new health habits are still being observed, or if they have been sidelined because of such hurdles.
“With the time change, the days appear longer now, the weather is getting warmer and we’ve hit that three-month mark into the New Year,” Whitt said. “It’s time to see what we’ve accomplished and where we want to go next.”
Whitt recommended that the April-May timeframe be viewed as the final two months before summer starts in June.
“It’s a short enough time period to hit health objectives hard and potentially see some results,” Whitt added.
To stay motivated while rebooting resolutions, Whitt made the following suggestions:
- Purchase new sneakers – Shoes with the proper fit and support give one less obstacle to fitness goals.
- Use social media and technology – Follow a health magazine that tweets daily tips and motivational quotes, or use an app that tracks fitness levels daily to monitor progress.
- Work towards an endgame – An event, activity or trip is needed as a specific target on the calendar to strive towards, and it can be used as an opportunity to celebrate success.
“Whether you’ve already fallen off the New Year’s resolution wagon or hadn’t committed to changing any of your personal health habits in the beginning of the year, the time to make a change is now; make today the day for a healthy choice,” Whitt said. “A year from now you will not regret making health a priority.”