Many Americans will give up on healthy New Year’s resolutions before February, survey finds

NEW YORK — If America’s track record for “sticking with it” in 2020 is any indication, keeping New Year’s resolutions may prove more difficult in 2021 than ever before. A new survey finds the average American tried to form 19 new habits during quarantine – and gave up on all but four of them.

The OnePoll study of 2,000 Americans reveals a new exercise routine (34%), a new hobby (31%), and a new cooking regimen (29%) were among the top new habits to try last year. On the other hand, a new wake-up time (13%), meditation (12%), and going to bed earlier (10%) were the activities most likely to be tried and subsequently abandoned in 2020.

The trend towards setting new health-related goals shows no sign of slowing in 2021. Eating better (39%), managing stress better (33%), and exercising more consistently (30%) are among respondents’ top New Year’s resolutions.

It’s hard to keep New Year’s resolutions for the long run

Unfortunately, the trend towards abandoning new healthy habits seems to be crossing into the new year too. The average respondent says they usually only keep their New Year’s resolution for 36 days.

New Year's Resolution problems
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Commissioned by Verv, the study also examines the longevity of the healthy habits respondents attempted to form in 2020 and how that might impact their progress over the next 12 months. Sixty-seven percent of Americans say they felt they needed to improve their wellness in light of the ongoing pandemic last year.

Over half of respondents (58%) however, agree that figuring out how to make new positive habits stick during this time was “next to impossible.” Amid COVID lockdowns and isolating indoors, new diets unsurprisingly fared the worst among attempted healthy habits. The average respondent who tried one says they lasted a mere 18 days before quitting.

New meditation routines fared slightly better at 20 days on average. Going to bed earlier (or later) and trying a new cooking routine both coasted in at 21 days; which is the number of days experts say is key to repeating a task in order to make it stick.

“Part of the challenge of creating a new healthy habit, whether at the outset of the new year or at any other time, is reinforcing that action until it becomes routine,” says Luba Pashkovskaya, CEO of global fitness app Verv, in a statement.

“Support can be key in this process, from a friend or family member attempting to form a new healthy habit right alongside you to an app that encourages you to keep going, and helps you map your progress.”

Resolution roadblocks

New Year's Resolution problems
(Credit: SWNS)

When it comes to the stumbling blocks that prevent Americans from forming new habits, the poll finds seeing the results of their efforts (39%), tracking their progress (35%), and the difficulty of doing things consistently (32%) are among the top challenges. Respondents also identified factors they thought would make it easier for them to keep their New Year’s resolutions this year. Those include taking more time to focus on the goal (44%), having a “resolution buddy” with the same goal (40%), and setting reminders (31%).

“The key to sticking with anything new, especially when it comes to your health, is being consistent. For keeping up with a fitness routine in particular, it’s also crucial to find an activity that you really enjoy doing — walking, dancing or yoga — whatever brings you endorphins,” Pashkovskaya adds.

Moreover, the survey reveals a third of Americans have used mobile apps to assist them in forming a new habit.

“Fitness apps with a variety of content options, so you never get bored, could be your best bet for getting and staying in shape this year.”