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Don’t make bike riding your New Year’s resolution

To be clear – if you’re planning to ride your bike more in 2019, that’s great!

There's however one big problem with making this your New Year’s resolution… most of the time they don’t work.

In fact, research conducted by the University of Scranton found that only eight per cent of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals, while around 80 per cent fail to keep their resolutions. Around 55 per cent of these are health or exercise related, such as riding a bike.

Furthermore, a study by Strava (the social media platform for exercising) analysed more than 31.5 million online global activities last year to narrow down the exact date when most people reported giving up as January 12. 

Why so many failures?

Well accordingly to business psychology professor Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic, this has to do with the fact that New Year’s resolutions have become a bit of a polite conversation piece at parties, and often don’t resemble realistic goals.  

“There is a big difference between wanting change and wanting to change. Even when people profess a clear desire to change, what that usually means is that they are interested in change as an outcome rather than change as a process. In other words, most people don’t really want to change, they want to have changed.”

Thus, New Year’s resolutions have become more like New Year’s wishes, without any real consideration for the effort and steps involved to succeed.

“I’m going to get fit in 2019!”

“This year, I’m going to save more money!”

Alternatively, there a lot of people who get swept away in the inspiration of ‘new year new me’ and set completely unobtainable and unrealistic goals.

“I’m going to cut out all sugar in 2019!”

“I’m going to start going to the gym five times a week!”

Nutritionist Dr Carly Moores explains that the problem with these ‘resolutions’ is that they aren’t realistic, and therefore when you ultimately fail or suffer a setback, you tend to give up altogether.

“Start with small changes and continue to build on these or try to tackle one change at a time,” Dr Moores said. “Try to set yourself goals, reflect on your progress towards these, acknowledge that changes can be hard, and results won’t happen overnight … or even in the first two weeks of the new year.”

So please don’t lump bike riding in to the category of broad wishful thinking or unrealistic and unobtainable pipe dreams. This is exactly what riding a bike is not!

Riding a bike should be easy, accessible and achievable – a normal day-to-day activity.

Don’t decide overnight that you must ride your bike to work every day this year. Instead (particularly if it’s been a while between rides) do a trial run over the weekend between home and work to test the difficulty and conditions. Or perhaps ask one of your colleagues who rides more frequently for some tips on the best route.

You don’t need to go out and buy a new bike and all the riding gear on January 1st in a crazed New Year’s resolution frenzy. Instead, have a think about five places you regularly drive to that are within five kilometres or so of home, and start substituting the drive for a ride when possible.

So if you’re keen to spend more time on the bike in 2019, that’s awesome – but don’t make bike riding your typical set-and-forget New Year’s resolution. 

If you don’t make bike riding a chore, but see it as a simple and effective mode of transport and exercise, you can actually use this healthy habit as a platform to achieve your other social, economic or health related goals.

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