My New Year’s Resolution is to keep my New Year’s Resolution
We all know exercise is important for health – so why don’t we do it?
Research shows that only 1 in 6 of adults meet Canada’s recommended activity guidelines (Statistics Canada, 2019). This number seems low doesn’t it? I mean, research shows that physical activity lowers the risk of disease and improves social and mental well-being (Bauman, Merom, Bull, Buchner & Singh, 2016). So why do people choose not to exercise despite being aware of all these benefits? Part of the problem seems to come from how researchers phrase this particular question. Health professionals and researchers have often assumed that - if people know about the benefits, then they’ll exercise (Ekkekakis, 2013). But this way of thinking, though rational, has had limited success because humans aren’t entirely rational beings (Ekkekakis, 2013).
So maybe it’s time to look at this problem in a different way? What if we changed the perspective and asked people who have just started to exercise, how they did it and how it has changed their lives? That’s exactly what my study hopes to accomplish. Through interviews and journal entries, I will document the experiences of adult’s aged 45 to 64 who have made a New Year’s Resolution to exercise more. Recruiting people who made this resolution allows me to look at their experiences early on in their exercise journeys. In my research I want to find out: (1) the main reasons these people decided to exercise in the first place; (2) whether they feel exercise has changed their lives; (3) if they feel having a New Year’s resolution made a difference in how they view exercise; and (4) if exercising now makes them want to exercise more in the future. Asking these questions will (hopefully) allow for a better understanding of middle-aged adults exercise behaviours. Similarly, these types of questions allow people to have an active voice in contributing to exercise behaviour research.
Exercise has the potential to drastically improve our health and wellbeing; but the most important step in getting to that point is truly understanding what gets people moving and the meaning this newfound exercise has upon their lives.
They say that our lives are in our hands, but in this case, wellness may truly begin when we start to move our feet.
Written by David McIlwraith
Bauman, A., Merom, D., Bull, F. C., Buchner, D. M., & Fiatarone Singh, M. A. (2016). Updating the evidence for physical activity: summative reviews of the epidemiological evidence, prevalence, and interventions to promote “active aging”. The gerontologist, 56(Suppl_2), S268-S280.
Ekkekakis, P. (2013). The measurement of affect, mood, and emotion: A guide for health-behavioral research. Cambridge University Press.
Statistics Canada. (2019). Tracking physical activity levels of Canadians, 2016 and 2017. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/190417/dq190417g-eng.htm