A study of 2,000 Americans found that a new exercise routine, a new hobby, and a new cooking regimen were among the top new habits to try last year

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SWNS fitness
Credit: SWNS

If Americans’ track record for “sticking with it” in 2020 is any indication, keeping New Year’s resolutions may prove more difficult in 2021 than ever before.

The average American tried to form 19 new habits during quarantine — and gave up on all but four of them, according to new research.

A study of 2,000 Americans found that a new exercise routine (34 percent), a new hobby (31 percent) and a new cooking regimen (29 percent) were among the top new habits to try last year.

On the other hand, a new wake-up time (13 percent), meditation (12 percent) and going to bed earlier (10 percent) were the activities most likely to be tried and subsequently abandoned in 2020.

And the trend toward setting new health-related goals shows no sign of slowing in 2021, as eating better (39 percent), managing stress better (33 percent) and exercising more consistently (30 percent) were among respondents’ top New Year’s resolutions for 2021.

But the trend toward abandoning new healthy habits might linger, too, with the average respondent saying they usually only keep their New Year’s resolution for 36 days, a little more than a month.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Verv, the study also examined the longevity of the healthy habits respondents attempted to form in 2020 — and how that might impact their progress in 2021.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported that, in 2020, they felt the need to improve their wellness in light of the impending public health crisis.

Yet over half of the respondents (58 percent) said figuring out how to make new positive habits stick during this time was “next to impossible.”

In the year of the COVID-19 outbreak and “staying in,” new diets unsurprisingly fared the worst among attempted healthy habits, with the average respondent who tried one saying it lasted just 18 days.

New meditation routines fared slightly better at 20 days on average, and going to bed earlier or later, along with trying a new cooking routine, both coasted in at 21 days — the number of days that experts say is key to repeating a task in order to make it a habit.

When it came to the stumbling blocks that prevented them from forming new habits, seeing the results of their efforts (39 percent), tracking their progress (35 percent) and the difficulty of doing things consistently (32 percent) were among the top challenges.

But respondents were also able to identify factors that they thought would make it easier for them to keep their New Year’s resolutions this year, which included more time to focus on the goal (44 percent), a “resolution buddy” with the same goal (40 percent) and reminders (31 percent).