Survey: Americans’ Top Resolution for 2023 Is to Exercise More

With the New Year just around the corner, many will create new goals to cut out old bad habits and begin a prosperous future. However, New Year’s resolutions are easier said than done.

Key takeaways:
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    New data shows America’s top New Year’s resolutions for 2023, with increased exercise at the top of the list.
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    Previous research shows New Year’s resolutions can be achieved with success.
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    Simple steps, including outside help and self-control, are important when seeking to attain New Year’s Resolutions.

The 2023 New Year will bring many resolutions for people in the United States. The latest data from Statista shows the top New Year’s resolutions for Americans, but based on past numbers—most Americans will fall short.

Although New Year’s resolutions can be tough to accomplish, pathways to success do exist.

The Statista Global Consumer Survey received responses from 413 U.S. adults between 18 and 89 years old. Respondents were allowed to make multiple resolution choices if they fit the bill.

The top resolution was to exercise more at 52%, followed by eating healthier at 50% and losing weight at 40%. These three connect to the ongoing obesity crisis in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. was 41.9% as of March 2020.

Interestingly, the following two resolutions seem to be the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Americans struggled financially during the pandemic and were unable to see loved ones. Saving more money, at 39%, and spending more time with family and friends at 37%, ranked three and four, respectively.

Other top resolutions from the Statista survey for 2023:

  • Spend less time on social media - 20%
  • Reduce stress while on the job - 19%
  • Reduce spending on living expenses - 19%

How successful are New Year’s resolutions?

New Year’s resolutions are not easy, but research shows certain measures can lead to success. An in-depth Swedish study explored the effectiveness of New Year’s resolutions on 1,066 participants. Like the recent survey from Statista, the most popular resolutions in the Swedish probe featured physical health, weight loss, and eating habits.

Researchers found those with increased support were able to accomplish their goals. After one year, 55% of respondents documented themselves as successful in sustaining their resolutions. Those who took approach-oriented goals versus avoidance-oriented goals were substantially more successful. The success found in this study differs from 2016 data in the U.S., which found only 9% of Americans achieved their New Year’s resolutions.

Professor Per Carlbring at the Stockholm University Department of Psychology was one of the leaders of the 2017 study. In a conversation with Stockholm University News, Calbring highlights it is all about phrasing the goal correctly to oneself.

"In many cases, rephrasing your resolution could definitely work,... For example, if your goal is to stop eating sweets in order to lose weight, you will most likely be more successful if you say ‘I will eat fruit several times a day’ instead. You then replace sweets with something healthier, which probably means you will lose weight and also keep your resolution. You cannot erase a behavior, but you can replace it with something else."

Per Carlbring

The Swedish research documents the lesser popularity of New Year’s resolutions within the country compared to others, such as the U.S. Still, the blueprint for success is evident in the Swedish study.

Steps to being successful in New Year’s resolutions

A University of Scranton study shows that the leading causes for New Year’s resolution slips are lack of personal control, excessive stress, and negative emotion. Making new changes is not easy, but there are ways to be successful in New Year’s resolutions.

Start small

Be sure not to stress by setting extreme resolutions. For example, if someone is new to exercise, it is important to gradually increase their activity levels. The recommended amount of physical activity is 150 minutes for adults and 60 minutes for children.

Write it down

The Swedish research presented incorporated journaling for participants to document their resolution progress, a factor not existing in previous investigations. This study showed the highest success rate for New Year’s resolutions, so jotting down resolutions and their progress can be beneficial.

Self-control

Although it can be difficult, resolutions ultimately come down to the individual. Limiting distractions and getting accustomed to telling oneself no will help for success in the new year.

Get outside help

Relying on personal motivation is tough, so it is important to have family, friends, or other online resources available to aid New Year’s resolutions.

Keep Going

Setting and maintaining new goals is not easy. Slipping up will likely occur in New Year’s resolutions, but continuing to improve is the most important part. Negativity will only lead to less likelihood of success in those resolutions, so make sure to stay positive heading into 2023.

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