May 22, 2024

Survey Reveals Britons Struggle to Sustain Healthy Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions often fade as the year progresses, and a recent survey conducted by outdoor clothing brand TOG24 sheds light on the persistent challenges faced by Britons in maintaining healthy habits.
The survey, which polled 2,000 individuals across the UK, highlighted that while 60% of respondents intended to commit to bettering their lives, a significant portion struggled to keep up with their resolutions, with more than a third admitting to faltering in maintaining their good healthy habit resolutions in the long run.

Gender disparities were apparent, with women being less likely to sustain their resolutions compared to men. Only 17% of women surveyed managed to maintain their good habits, contrasting with 26% of men.
Generational differences also emerged, with Millennials and Gen-Zers demonstrating better success rates in achieving their healthy goals compared to Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers. 30% of those aged 18 to 27 and 28 to 45 successfully kept their resolutions, while only 13% of those over 45 managed to do so.

The implications of failing to uphold healthy habits extend beyond individual well-being, impacting public health costs significantly. The societal cost of obesity alone in the UK is estimated to be £49.9 billion annually, with NHS costs projected to reach £9.7 billion by 2050. To gain deeper insights into the survey findings, we interviewed Eloise Skinner, an author and psychotherapist specialising in goal-setting and existential therapy.

Were you surprised by these results?

I wasn’t particularly surprised – it’s tricky to set a resolution on the first day of a new year and maintain it for the long term! We’re often attracted by the “fresh start” effect but where we pick new habits that don’t correspond to our current lifestyle, identity or behavioural habits, it’s  difficult to maintain them.

What is your opinion on women being more likely to try and improve their health habits, but being less likely to maintain them?

Women are often encouraged to adopt new health-related habits that require quite a significant lifestyle change (diet, exercise, appearance etc.), and so perhaps the trend reflects the fact that women are often setting high expectations for their new habits!

What about the generational divide highlighted by the survey?

This could also reflect a heightened sense of drive, energy or ambition amongst the youngest generations – or the adoption of habits that align closer to the behavioural or cultural norms of those generations. For example, gym sessions and fitness classes have been popularised on social media and in culture, so it may be easier for younger generations to adopt these changes as a part of their identity.

What is the secret to maintaining good health habits in the long run?

Firstly, to have a strong sense of why you want to adopt the habit – what you want to achieve, and why it matters. Having a strong sense of purpose can provide you with the energy to get through the tougher moments. Secondly, to choose habits or structure new behaviours in a way that complements your existing lifestyle – for example, choosing early morning workouts if you’re a morning person, or habit-stacking a new habit with a behaviour you frequently do. And thirdly, keep yourself accountable – you could join a community, club or group that supports your new habit or behaviour – a run club, for example, or a community fitness class.

What is, in your opinion, the UK’s biggest obstacle to achieving a healthy lifestyle and
why?

Many people in the UK might consider a new habit to be costly – gym membership, for example. But there are lots of free or affordable alternatives – community fitness classes, or online workouts at home. Others might consider that they don’t have enough time for a new habit – but the key is to start small, and remain consistent over a long period of time! Even a small input of energy every day towards your new habit adds up over time.

If you only had one advice to give to people struggling with keeping up with their goals
what would it be?

Find something that reminds you why you want to achieve your new habit – a photo, an item or a quote – and have it somewhere you can look at every day. Reminding yourself of the eventual goal might help you stay on track when you feel like giving up.

Further on the matter, Mark Ward, the Managing Director of TOG24 stated:

s sobering to see just how many of us struggle to maintain good habits, but unfortunately, it’s not surprising. The biggest difficulty is balancing motivation and the demands of daily life. People have great enthusiasm at the start of January, but as people return to work and daily pressures mount, reaching resolution goals quickly seems impossible. While going for glory may provide the initial motivation for setting a goal, it’s impossible to succeed if you don’t enjoy the process of reaching that goal.

Venturing outdoors without a specific agenda is often an easier and more effective way too. Even in small doses, nature has been proven to positively affect mental and physical well-being and can lead to sustainable, positive lifestyle changes.”

Mark Ward, the Managing Director of TOG24, noted the challenges of balancing motivation with the demands of daily life. He suggested that integrating outdoor activities into daily routines could lead to sustainable lifestyle changes, citing the positive effects of nature on mental and physical well-being.

As a response to the survey findings, TOG24 has provided practical tips on their website to help individuals maintain their long-term resolution.