Desk for Success: How to Keep a New Year’s Resolution
Half of All Americans Make a New Years Resolution
We suspect an even larger percentage of our readers will make a resolution. Statistically, half of all resolutions are related to weight loss (#1) or getting healthy (#5). Here’s the full list, if you’re interested in the statistics on New Years resolutions.
And, statistically speaking, around a quarter of the people will have scrapped their resolution by the end of the first week of the new year. Yep, resolutions are a harsh business. The sad truth is that, once initial optimism is stripped away, humans are pretty lousy at keeping promises to themselves. There are plenty of reasons, and a lot of them boil down to one thing – we’re not built for immediate, enduring change. The cooler your turkey is, the less likely you are to make a resolution stick. Let’s take willpower as an example.
Willpower, it turns out, doesn’t originate from some deep-seated bit of the soul; it comes from a chunk of the cortex, and it’s just as subject to strain as any other part of the human body. So much so, in fact, that it can easily be overtaxed by, for instance, focusing on too many resolutions at once. Even nutrition factors in – exerting self-control consumes glucose, and a starved brain does a poor job of resisting temptation (a major factor in the failure of extreme diets).
Never Tell Me the Odds
So that’s a little grim, but here’s some good news. The fact that you’re reading this article means that you might be considering the purchase of a treadmill or standing desk to give your resolutions a fighting chance. If that’s the case, then your odds of bucking those numbers up above go way, way up.
Why? For one, treadmill and standing desks are a much gentler change in lifestyle than other, more intense fitness interventions. Think of a more traditional health resolution – say, spending a few hours at the gym each week. What immediately comes to mind? Likely effort, sweating, and possibly some vague phobia involving barbells (we can’t be the only ones). But even more importantly, the concept of “time investment” likely surfaced as well.
In fact, the number one reason that people resisted going to the gym, or wound up scrapping scheduled visits, was the perception of time investment. Most people viewed hours spent at the gym as time devoted entirely to working out, which would then bite into work or leisure time. Concerns over physical exhaustion and injury were also prevalent. But with a treadmill desk, all of those factors evaporate. Treadmill desks were designed as a background activity – something you could do while still remaining productive, allowing you to exercise without fear of sacrificing time. It’s still possible to tire yourself out on a treadmill desk if you want to, but the physical risks are far lower than they are with more intense gym programs.
Work the Program Into Your Life, Not Your Life Into the Program
Once someone gets on a treadmill desk, they generally find it far easier to keep their exercise plan in place. Instead of taking time to drive to a gym, the average treadmill desker strolls over to a home or office workstation, and presses a button. Treadmill desking also keys into the concept of “fading”, the practice of gradually reducing a behavior (inactivity, in this case). In John Norcross’ landmark study of factors in keeping or dropping resolutions, fading was among the most effective measures used by effective resolvers. Stimulus control, or keeping environmental reminders of a resolution, was also helpful – and nothing reminds you to walk quite like a room with a treadmill desk in it – and that slow, gradual health change is key to improving health.
Years of research have shown that our bodies just don’t like change. Short spurts of gym use result in short spurts of physical change. But after we’re sick of the gym and diet’s over, what then? For most of us, the answer is that we go right back to where we were. Instead, it’s years of activity, like those spent on a treadmill desk, that result in lasting improvements. As we often say, treadmill desking isn’t a substitute for cardio and resistance training, and for a true fitness renaissance, you’ll still need to hit the gym. But if you’re in the business of taking up a long-term, lasting resolution, and one you’ll be able to keep, you’re in the right place.
There’s nowhere better to take your first step than on a treadmill desk. Perhaps the personal story of our own founder’s successful attainment of better health through coordinated diet and movement might inspire you.