New Year’s resolutions – why not try something new?
January is the traditional month for making New Year’s resolutions and for sharing our best intentions for the coming year with family and friends. It’s the perfect time to get out of a rut and sort out our life. January is ‘all change’, whether it’s our job, relationships, home or lifestyle.
Most of us feel a psychological need for renewal, both physical and mental. It can be a reaction to the holiday season, when we throw sensible routines out of the window, often leading to weight gain and unhealthy habits.
So we start each year with ambitious plans to sort out our mind, body, and soul, but after the big buzz and enthusiasm of the first weeks, success is elusive. With all this in mind, we have come up with some ideas on how to combine fitness with enjoyment, so you don’t ditch your good intentions at the first hurdle.
New Year’s resolutions: wellness tips
Losing weight is not ‘mission impossible’ but it’s not easy to maintain that ideal weight. Our busy lives and sedentary jobs often lead to eating convenience, fatty foods and skipping exercise. It’s a well-known fact that most gym memberships are bought early in January but access cards end up languishing in a drawer come February.
Walking for fun and fitness
The NHS has recognised the benefits of walking with its campaign Walking for Health. Walking groups are operating in many UK counties to suit all levels of fitness. The campaign’s website offers plenty of advice on how to start and, crucially, how to stay motivated. It also explains walking health benefits in great detail: “Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.”
We have written about the health benefits of walking before, so please click here to check our previous post. Walking is a great social activity, so if you can’t find any NHS walk near you, you can join the Ramblers, Britain’s walking charity and/or even organise your own walk to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Cycling for weight loss and ageing
Cycling is another great social activity that carries significant health benefits and helps you reach your target weight. Plus, according to a recent study, it can help you to age gracefully. If your friends and family aren’t into it, why not join one of the growing numbers of cycling groups across the country (984 at last count)? You can then pedal your way to health.
There’s now a huge cycling following that continues to grow along with the British Olympic and Road Cycling successes. Discover one of the thousands of sportives, competitions and cycling based charity events to participate in for those looking to take it to the next level.
Swimming is a great low-impact exercise, which is open to everyone and to all ages. It is very well supported by local clubs, groups and major initiatives such as Go Swimming. There are plenty of energetic classes poolside, including water Zumba and aerobics, which are great fun. If you have a competitive streak, you can take it further by participating to competitions and charity Swimathon events.
Volunteering’s emotional benefits
Giving back to the community and getting involved in a project close to your heart both make for a worthwhile and worthy New Year’s resolution. There are thousands of organisations looking for volunteers and there’s much more to it than shaking a tin can at your local supermarket! Helping out will make you feel better and you can get some action too by joining conservation projects, such as helping out at National Trust property or garden. You can also end up making like-minded friends and developing new skills. As a bonus point, a volunteering commitment looks very good on your CV.
We’ve previously written about volunteering, click here to read our previous post, but if you’re still stumped for ideas, you can find out more by visiting these websites:
- Do-it, claiming to be the most diverse and comprehensive national database of volunteering opportunities in the UK
- Volunteering.org, which originated from the 2013 merger of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and Volunteering England
- Volunteer Now, the lead organisation working to promote, develop and support volunteering across Northern Ireland.
The opportunities don’t end there; many organisations such as the National Trust, English Heritage, wildlife trusts, museums, societies and even public organisations like the NHS, schools and universities use volunteers in a variety of ways. Most of these organisations would lose vital services if volunteers were not giving them the gift of time.
Learning for fun and career progression
Learning is a lifelong pursuit and it can boost your job prospects. The Open University’s distance learning programme allows learners access to degree courses and free modules on a variety of subjects. If you prefer the social aspect of being in a classroom, check out your local university or college as most offer adult learning courses.
Ever heard of MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses)? They are free online courses from the best universities in the world. The courses are offered through dedicated sites like FutureLearn, launched in 2012 by the Open University in partnership with other universities and institutions like the British Council, British Library and British Museum. If you fancy a MOOC from Harvard or other US universities, try EdX. These are great choices for home learning and for those enjoying interactions through social media.
Alternatively, you might want to pick up a new hobby. Did you get a digital camera for Christmas? Keen to make the most of it? Why not enrol into a photography course to get beyond the “auto” mode and download a Handheld Tour to practise your snapping skills? Also be sure to have a look at our previous photography posts on taking interesting outdoor photos and Instagram tips. We’d love to see what you can do and we will feature your best efforts on this blog.