Getting active in the New Year the right way

Kate O'Callaghan walking up a hill while holding her bike .jpg
Kate O’Callaghan, one of the 100 Women in Cycling 2023
Every year there’s a lot of discourse around New Year’s resolutions, especially when it comes to health and fitness related ones.

In recent times we’ve seen an increase in discussions about the effect of resolutions like these on people’s mental health. Peer pressure, unrealistic goals and being too harsh on ourselves are often some of the biggest reasons resolutions such as these fail. In today’s climate, we’re also up against financial barriers from rising prices, with the cost of living increases affecting fitness equipment and much more.

On the other hand, the momentum around New Year’s resolutions can be helpful in reminding you to stay on track and have access to more support from others pursuing similar plans. Getting more active – no matter to what extent – has huge benefits for mental health.  

As always, it’s about balancing the positives and negatives and trying to set yourself up for success rather than failure. Here’s how you can do this! 

How to set a successful fitness resolution

Set incremental, specific goals

Instead of setting one large, vague goal for the year, break it down into smaller, more achievable ones. 

Instead of “I want to cycle more in 2024” you could change it to “I want to cycle for more than an hour twice a week.”

You can break down goals by time, or by activity, so there’s plenty of scope to make them as achievable as possible. You could even set out a timeline of smaller tasks. If you’re looking to get into cycling, for example, your task for January might simply be sourcing the right bike for you

Setting a large, non-specific goal isn’t helpful and means you’re far more likely to abandon your aims. 

Be realistic

Don’t pick an outlandish goal that is unlikely to be achievable based on evidence. “Cycle from Land’s End to John o’ Groats in 2024” might be realistic for one person, but not for another. Do your research and plan accordingly. There’s no harm in aiming big as long as it’s realistic for you – not what’s realistic for someone else! 

Allow for slip-ups

Usually people talk about moving the goalposts as a negative, but if you’re setting a resolution, it’s completely fine to discover you need to change up what you’re aiming for or put things back a few months. Health and fitness are closely related so if you get ill, or injured, or life just gets hectic, you don’t want to feel like you’ve failed.

Be kind to yourself

Try to set a goal that aligns with your interests. If off-roading and mountain biking aren’t your thing, don’t make a mountain bike number one on your January shopping list. Pick something that you already do but just want to do better or something you’ve always wanted to dip your toe into. You don’t need to be your own draconian personal trainer – try to remember that you’re setting yourself up for success, not trying to tear yourself down. 

Celebrate the wins 

Were you really busy this week but you still got out for your daily cycle? Did you cycle further than you did last month? Did you have an unplanned rest day because your body needed it, even though you wanted to push through? All of these are wins. Celebrate them, no matter how small they are, and congratulate yourself for making improvements. 

Seek community and support 

If going it alone isn’t your cup of tea, find like-minded people out there to make the journey easier. It could be online, in Facebook groups, or Instagram, or even TikTok, or in-person at local clubs and organisations

Two cyclists in the New Forest (c) Peter Cornish.jpg

Saving money on your favourite sports

If these tips are useful and you do want to look at setting a resolution to get more active in the New Year, we’ve come up with some cost-effective ways to increase your fitness in 2024 – we’re all feeling the pinch! 

Community classes

Gym memberships can be costly. If you look at your local sports centres and village halls you may find they have regular classes that are much cheaper than a membership, or more flexible options that better suit your lifestyle. Smaller, independent gyms also run shorter courses or introductions. You could even look at social groups that are free if it’s a sport or activity you’ve done before. 

At-home workouts

Nowadays there is a wealth of content online that you can access for free or inexpensively. On YouTube alone you can find classes on nearly everything you can think of: dance workouts, recovery workouts, low-impact workouts, at-desk workouts (yes, there truly is no excuse!), walking workouts (one of our favourites for these wet and rainy days). Get browsing and we’re sure you’ll find something that’ll help you get active. There are also apps for your phone or tablet that are often a one-off or low monthly price that come with libraries of exercise videos or workout plans. 

There is also a variety of indoor exercise equipment that you could pick up second-hand if you have the space.

Keep equipment affordable

Influencer culture remains strong and impossible to ignore, but remember that you don’t need the latest gear all the time. Check out places like Vinted and Ebay for deals on second-hand clothing, as well as your local selling groups on Facebook or similar for equipment. Picking up the basics this way means less investment, and can get you active quicker than waiting for sales or saving up.

Go multifunctional

The technology in fitness clothing has come a long way, and you’ll often find that you can double up your gear if you think about it. Want to start cycling more but don’t want to splash out on a proper cycle jersey yet? If you’re a runner, you may find a pair of shorts and a running top will work just as well.

Take a look at your wardrobe before you start adding things to your basket and throw on your yoga leggings for your cycle rather than buy something new!

Cycling into the New Year

We are obviously huge fans of cycling as a way to get active, so here are some specific tips for cycling more this year:

  • Cycle within your means. If you already own a bike, look at its capabilities and stick to that. It’ll only end up with damage to the bike – or yourself!
  • If you’re a complete beginner, check out our essential tips for starting out cycling
  • Regardless of what type of cycling you’re into or want to get into, have a look at your local cycling club. We have around 1,000 member and affiliated groups across the UK, offering thousands of rides and events which cater for all types of riding and abilities – there’s sure to be a group near you.
  • Need a helping hand? If you do have the cash to spare, a Cycling UK membership is one way to keep you inspired to go out on the bike. You’ll get support, advice and tips all year round on ways to enjoy cycling more, as well as third-party insurance and discounts on selected outdoors and cycling retailers. Take advantage of our special offer of a full 12-month membership for the price of just 9 months

However you approach your fitness goals in 2024, make sure you’re doing it in the right way for you.  

12 month membership for the price of 9!

Kick start your New Year journey to better health with a Cycling UK membership. Enjoy year-round wellbeing with access to expert advice, exclusive retail discounts, peace of mind insurance, and a bi-monthly copy of Cycle magazine.

Don’t miss out – claim your membership today