And those resolutions may already be flagging. Perhaps it’s harder than we thought. Perhaps we can’t find time to exercise. And perhaps when we do…it’s not that fun.
I just recently finished writing a journal article (for clinicians) entitled “How to Train for a Marathon.” The major focus of the article is that while there are hundreds of prescribed training programs for a marathon, people don’t want to just train for a marathon: they want to complete it. And finishing 26.2 miles requires an emphasis on three things: avoiding injury, adequately training for the distance, and psychological preparation to endure through the pain, self-doubt and boredom of an entire marathon. I thought the latter– psychological preparation– might be useful for New Years revelers who are having trouble transitioning into resolutioners.
There are at least three cognitive strategies used to participate in long distance events: association, disassociation and positive self-talk. The included figure demonstrates examples of all three techniques. Whereas association involves a focus on the physical and temporal sensations of exercise (how the body feels, breathing, the difficulty of the task, time and pace, the sensations of the body), disassociation is the opposite technique (using external stimuli or other cognitive distractions to remove oneself from the present sensations of exercise). The last strategy, positive self-talk, emphasizes using a variety of methods as a pep talk to get through the bout of exercise. Which is most effective for making endurance exercise tolerable? Well, the research unfortunately is equivocal, with some data suggesting that disassociation and positive self-talk may be more effective for endurance efforts and other studies indicating that the efficacy of these strategies are highly individual.
Perhaps the most widely used strategy to improve exercise tolerance and the fun factor is listening to music while running, as evidenced by the sheer number of exercisers, inside and out, that wear headphones while working out. Should you need an update on music, let me give you two of my current favorites on my playlist. These always get me going:
1. American Authors: Best Day of My Life
2. Avicii: Wake Me Up
And finally, should your resolutions be absolutely failing miserably, don’t get discouraged. I recently read this fascinating post on Robert Krulwich’s blog, which describes the Gompertz Law of Human Mortality. In essence, the risk of dying for humans across the world roughly doubles every 8 years. So while the graph looks intimidating for later ages, it gives me some reassurance that we have 8 year windows of time before anything dramatic changes with respect to our mortality. In other words, plenty of time to get going with those resolutions.