Why the New Year pessimists have got it wrong

Health goals CSC Blogs
Four Fitbit products

The market for sports, fitness & activity monitors is expected to be worth $2.8 billion by 2019

After the excesses of the festive season, January is the traditional time for people to focus on health and the topic has certainly been hard to avoid either on social or traditional media these past few weeks.

In the UK, around 32 percent of people planned to make a New Year resolution for 2016 and top of the list, perhaps unsurprisingly were health and wellbeing goals: lose weight, get fit and eat more healthily. Had the same question been asked a decade ago, I dare say the result would have been much the same, but what has changed is how we intend to achieve our health goals.

There’s an app for that

Technology is now playing an increasingly important part in our lives and it seems that now, more than ever, we are turning to apps, devices and even smart clothes for help.

Sales of wearable activity monitors and smart watches have soared in recent years, with predictions suggesting that by 2019, the global market for sports, fitness and activity monitors will be worth $2.8 billion.

Having trialed various monitors and apps myself, it’s fair to say that some are more helpful than others. The app I used to remind myself to stay hydrated played the sound of running water loudly when it was time for my next glass of water – a helpful reminder, but not when you’re in a meeting or at the cinema.

Similarly, while knowing how many steps I’ve taken in a day is useful, the data is only helpful to the point of creating awareness – the real work, i.e. adopting new habits and taking more steps still relies on me taking action. Human behavior is a notoriously complex subject and at this time of year especially, the headline writers seem to revel in the fact that we humans find change challenging.

Misplaced pessimism?

For every article written on New Year’s resolutions I’ve read this year, there’s been at least mention of some statistic or other that points to the fact that few people will actually achieve their goals.

Some writers seem to almost delight in reminding us that for all of our optimism, only around eight percent of people will stick to their resolutions, even coining the term, ‘Fail Friday’ to describe the day when apparently, most people finally give in to temptation and wave goodbye to their good intentions.

For anyone reading the news over the past few weeks, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we are a nation of failures, utterly incapable of changing our bad habits and wasting our money on technology that will be abandoned in weeks because the data alone wasn’t enough to tempt us off the couch. But this is a woefully negative and inaccurate view.

Reasons to celebrate success

Smoking is a case in point. While it remains the number one cause of preventable disease in the UK, people are quitting the habit. There has been a 37 percent reduction in smoking over the past 30 years and every person who succeeds is a success story.

The jury is still out on whether any of the 400 plus smoking cessation apps can take any of the credit for the most recent decline, but with close to 780,000 downloads globally per month, there is certainly strong demand from a generation now very comfortable with using technology to support their health goals.

While rates of smoking are heading in the right direction, as a nation, there are also signs that we’re becoming more active. Figures from Sport England reveal that 15.7million people are now regularly playing sport, an increase of 245,000 compared to figures published in June. Yet another reason to celebrate the people who are succeeding in creating positive change in their lives.

Changing the narrative

As a nation, our health and wellbeing challenges still loom large, but instead of looking for failure, we really should be looking for the bright spots. There is more than enough evidence of success to rewrite the New Year narrative and it’s about time that we did.

 

Comments

  1. New apps certainly add fun to the equation especially when it’s cold outside and getting to train requires lots of motivation. I personally love those free apps giving you instructions for 7 minutes high intensity workouts : it’s free, fun and fast!

    Liked by 1 person

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