Each year millions of people make a New Year’s resolution in the hope of creating a new and improved version of ourselves, often intending to tackle an aspect of our health. Common health resolutions are to:

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables
  • Do more exercise
  • Stop smoking
  • Drink less alcohol.

But we all know that keeping a New Year’s resolution can be tough. Psychologists have found we're more likely to succeed if we break our resolution into smaller goals that are specific, measurable and time-based. Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor at Hertfordshire University, gives tips for boosting willpower and staying motivated:

1. Make only one resolution. Choosing just one aspect of your health to improve will increase your chance of success.

2. Plan your resolution in advance. This will give you time to think about your goal and how to achieve it.

3. Don’t repeat last year’s resolution. Or, if you do, at least pick a different technique to achieve it.

4. Keep the resolution specific and write it down.

5. Plan a reward for when you achieve your goal. This will give you something to focus on.

It’s likely we’ll slip back into our old habits from time to time so don’t give up. Richard Wiseman gives more details and a video on how to keep your new year’s resolutions.

Help is always available from local and national organisations and services. Look for one which suits you. Here are some which could help with your chosen resolution:

Leisure East Devon: Provides sports and leisure activities on behalf of the council. Centres in Axminster, Colyton, Sidmouth, Broadclyst, Exmouth, Honiton, Ottery St Mary and Seaton. LED also run projects in communities that do not have easy or any access to facilities. These projects can greatly vary e.g. walking, skateboarding, or Zumba.

Exmouth parkrun, Seaton parkrun: each is a 5km run, every Saturday at 9:00am.

One Small Step: A free service to support adults in Devon to improve health and wellbeing. Help to maintain a healthy weight, get more active, cut down on alcohol and quit smoking. Help is through telephone coaching, online support and a free mobile app.

One You: A national service that offers advice on smoking, drinking, healthy eating, and being more active, as well as advice on managing sleep and stress. It provides free tips, tools and support. It aims to help you make small, practical changes that fit in with your life.

Active 10: Exercise made easy! Did you know that walking briskly and continuously for 10 minutes counts as exercise? Information about Public Health England's national Active 10 campaign using a free app for smartphones, which encourages us to take one or more 10-minute brisk walks a day.

Dry January: Enables you to take control of your relationship with alcohol. Take part in this annual national campaign for help to ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline, and save money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.

If you are worried about specific health issues, this NHS website gives reliable information and guidance on all aspects of health and healthcare.

Disclaimer: if in doubt please seek professional medical advice.