Looking to start a diet or new fitness routine? No need to wait for New Year's Day to make a resolution. New research shows Mondays are actually the best day to start a healthy habit or make a big change in your life.
"On certain days, called temporal landmarks, you just have a different view of yourself," researcher Jason Riis, visiting professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Today Show
. "You become more forward looking."
To reach their conclusions, the Wharton researchers conducted three experiments. First, they checked Google to see when and how often people searched for diet and exercise. Secondly, they tracked the most popular days at the University of Pennsylvania gym. And finally, they examined a Website where people made contracts with themselves to change a behavior — and lost money if they failed.
Here are the most popular days for starting a diet, beginning a new workout program, or adopting other healthy habits.
Mondays: Mondays, the start of the week, offer the opportunity to make a fresh start, which may be why they tend to be good days to make a change. But there are drawbacks: People can use all their energy and willpower up early on, meaning they can burn out later in the week, the researchers said.
Birthdays and anniversaries: The researchers found that day after a birthday many people hit the gym, with the exception of the 21st birthday (too many people may have hangovers to consider a workout). Birthdays also can serve as a time to revisit an earlier goal.
First day of the month: Gym attendance is up in the beginning of the month, according to Google search data. So don't be surprised if workout classes are more crowded or you have to wait for an exercise machine.
New season or new semester: Many people make changes at the beginning of the seasons, researchers found. Spring is a time to clear clutter from our lives, or a reminder that bathing suit season is coming. Fall brings the start of a new school year. One of the times students are more likely to work out is at the start of the semester, Wharton researchers found.
New Year's Day: It's the cliché, but people have made New Year’s resolutions since ancient Roman times. A new year gives people an opportunity to think about the future and their future selves, it also helps them reflect on the past and their negative behaviors, the researchers said. There is also more social support and more information available on diets and exercise programs.