How to stay fit in 2021: Study finds the key to never giving up this year

Struggling to get enough exercise? Make sure to switch up your workouts to see long-lasting benefits, according to science

Getting fit
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If you're already struggling with your 2021 new year's resolutions, you're not the only one: research has found most people give up after an average of just three weeks – right around now. 

You might be getting sick of HIIT workouts on your living room floor, lacing up your best shoes for walking or running the same routes around your neighbourhood, and we don't blame you one bit. Even though the gyms are open in some areas, the limited capacities and restrictive safety measures are still keeping many people away. 

But don't be disheartened and give up on your new exercise routine: one study shows that by switching up your workouts to try new pursuits, you're more likely to stay active for longer. 

A study published in the scientific journal Translational Behavioural Medicine examined the "multidimensionality" of physical activity across a large group of adults containing lots of different participants of all ages, genders and races. The study looked at both the frequency of exercise sessions taking place, in addition to the different kinds of physical activity taking place.

Unsurprisingly, the most active set were also the group performing more kinds of physical activity. This is known in the fitness world as "cross-training", or developing a broad range of fitness skills.

Basketball

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Of the physical activities listed in the study, walking was the most popular, with adults of all mobility levels and demographics walking for exercise. However, there's no reason to stick with just one: the Washington Post reports Americans who did three or more types of exercise a week are more likely to hit the weekly total of 150 minutes, the amount recommended by the US government. 

A long walk on the weekend, a strength session on Monday (perhaps with a set of the best adjustable dumbbells or best resistance bands) and a short jog on Wednesday morning would be a great way to mix up your workouts and make your routine more interesting, encouraging you to stick with your workouts and push your limits further. However, this is an opportunity to let your imagination run wild. 

If you've always wanted to try paddleboarding, mountain biking or tai chi, you can now do so while remaining socially distant. Many yoga classes have moved outdoors, weather permitting, to ensure the safety of participants, and you can still do yoga in the comfort of your own home. Hiking has never been more popular. 

walking to lose weight

(Image credit: Merrell)

At first, the novelty alone might draw you in for an hour's exercise, but the more variety you engage in, the more activities you'll find you enjoy and want to take up on a regular basis.

Give it a try: lace up your hiking boots, saddle up that mountain bike, grab that squash racket or dust off that skateboard. Injecting a little more novelty into your workouts is the science-backed key to staying active in 2021 and beyond. 

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Get Fit for 2021 with Fit&Well
As the sun rises on a brand new year, Fit&Well is here to help put last year behind you and make 2021 your happiest, healthiest yet. Here at fitandwell.com, we’ll be bringing you a wealth of workouts, diet plans and expert advice throughout January to help kick-start your health and fitness goals.

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.