Conor McLean: Make it your New Year’s resolution to take responsibility for your health

Edinburgh Leisure staff are on hand to help you stick to your New Year's reolution to get off the couch and get fitter
Edinburgh Leisure staff are on hand to help you stick to your New Year's reolution to get off the couch and get fitter
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New Year is traditionally a time where we set ourselves goals for the coming year, with resolutions often taking the form of a promise to ourselves to improve an aspect of our life and changing an undesired behaviour for the better. Some of the most common resolutions include increasing physical activity levels or eating a healthier diet, often in a bid to shift those extra pounds put on over the festive period.

It’s no surprise that these are the most common resolutions when you look at the findings of the 2016 Scottish Health Survey which highlight that 65 per cent of Scottish adults are overweight or obese, and 80 per cent of adults fail to meet the five-a-day recommendation, with 12 of adults not consuming any fruit or veg at all. On top of this 36 per cent of adults are not achieving the national physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity each week.

Conor McLean, Weight Management Development Officer, Edinburgh Leisure

Conor McLean, Weight Management Development Officer, Edinburgh Leisure

Being inactive, obese or overweight increases the risk of developing long-term health conditions such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and come cancers.

According to the Obesity in Scotland paper published by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre the cost to NHS Scotland of people being overweight or obese could be in the region of £600 million per year. It is also estimated that the average health care cost for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 (severe obesity) is at least twice than those for people with a BMI of 20 (within normal weight range).

So, it is clear we need to start taking responsibility of our health and what better time than now. This January as part of National Obesity Awareness Week (8-14 January) we are being encouraged to make resolutions which will improve the health of our nation. Whether it’s cooking more healthily, avoiding snacks, or being a little more physically active, join in National Obesity Awareness week and make your healthy New Year’s resolution now.

Even a small change in your lifestyle can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing but only if you make a lasting change. Whilst many of us make New Year’s resolutions it is estimated that up to 80 per cent of resolutions fail by February.

Don’t set yourself overly ambitious or unsustainable goals if you want to stick to your New Year’s resolution. Smaller, realistic and achievable goals will help you stick to those New Year’s resolution and make them a long-term healthy habit. A really effective way to do this is to set yourself a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound) resolution.

Having a specific goal with a clear focus will help with motivation and planning and being able to measure your progress can help keep you motivated long term. Making your resolution realistic and achievable is also important as if it is too hard you are likely to lose focus and experience feelings of anxiety, stress or disappointment. Don’t set yourself up to fail.

Keep yourself accountable. Tell people what your goal is, write it down and keep it somewhere you will see it every day (on the fridge or mirror). If you keep your goal to yourself in your head, it can be forgotten about or not become as important as it once was. However, by writing it down, it can become a conscious commitment to help you achieve.

At Edinburgh Leisure, we understand that making and sticking to these changes is sometimes easier said than done. We work in partnership with NHS Lothian to deliver two weight management programmes; Get Going and Get Moving.

Get Going is a nine-week physical activity and education programme supporting children and their families to get active, eat well and lead a healthy lifestyle. Get Moving is a 12-week weight management and physical activity programme which supports adults with a BMI of over 30 to get more active, eat well and achieve a healthier weight. Both initiatives support participants to increase their activity levels and improve their knowledge on healthy eating; enabling them to lead healthier lifestyles.

Edinburgh Leisure is a charity dedicated to creating opportunities for people to get active, stay active and lead healthier lives. Through our Active Communities’ programmes we support around 5,200 people each year affected by health conditions, poverty, inequalities and disabilities to get active stay active and lead healthier lives.

Leading a healthier and more active lifestyle can improve your health and wellbeing, bettering your quality of life and minimising risk factors which can lead to long-term health conditions. So what are you waiting for – make 2018 your year. Get Going on those New Year’s resolutions and Get Moving more in 2018 . For more information on Get Going, Get Moving or any of our Active Communities programmes please contact

Conor McLean, Weight Management Development Officer, Edinburgh Leisure