Here is good news for the New Year; health is contagious. Healthy people consort with their likes and good behaviors are reinforced. This applies to fitness, eating, and avoiding addictive attractions. Naturally, runners don’t hang out with smokers–an increasing rare category. Ever seen someone smoking at a triathlon, or even a 10K fun run?

A healthy lifestyle implies good nutrition and exercise. All educated Americans know this is the ideal. It would be hard to avoid this knowledge, but recurrent temptations cause ideal and actual behaviors to drift apart. Consider the dripping butter ads for Red Lobster, or Outback’s “Bloomin Onion”.

(Outback’s famous Bloomin’ Onion® loaded with Aussie Cheese Fries and topped with Outback Center-Cut Sirloin.)

After introducing a version of the fried onion blossom inexplicably garnished with a mound of cheese fries last year, the suburban strip mall stalwart decided to take one step further into culinary depravity by crowning it with “center-cut sirloin steak bites.” By the way, one can have crumbled bacon for a top dressing on the crown.

The sorry results are obesity and bad health. An unattractive appearance is compounded by serious health risks. Hence, the most common New Year’s resolution is to reduce the gap between ideal and actual weight and fitness. This involves eating better and exercising more regularly. In sum, people resolve to shape up!


However, shaping up is hard to do. It’s far better to find a healthful groove and consciously, consistently stay in it. That’s one of Bozeman’s attractive features, such good grooves are well traveled and easy to find. With a population of 45,000 in a town of twenty square miles, it has over twenty health, fitness, and training clubs. Also, a slew of personal trainers are on call.

The club nearest our home and we know best is The Ridge. ( Others, some specialized for certain activities, may be better for some people. Ramona and I have been Ridge members since it opened. We occasionally give guest passes to friends from Laguna Beach, California. They tell us nothing in Laguna matches The Ridge.

There is overwhelming, ever increasing information that regular and moderately serious physical exercise, 60 to 80 percent of one’s maximum heart rate for 30 or more minutes, five times a week, is an elixir for mental and physical health. Ponce de Leon’s magic water is available and scientifically tested, it’s your workout sweat (or just the blush that comes with exercise).

This also applies to minds as well as muscles. Even short bursts of exercise boosts the brain’s executive functions (Brain and Mind Inst. study from Western Univ. London, Canada). Staying fit seems to reduce age related memory loss (Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience Journal).

Resolving to Become Fit in the New Year

According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, about 50 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions every year. Most are to lose weight and exercise more. Yes, well-toned and fit people feel better about themselves, especially when exercising. That’s why things and people look better from The Ridge.

Let’s consider economic perspectives on New Year’s resolutions to exercise. People who make this resolution usually do one of two things; they join a health club or buy home exercise equipment. Some do both. These understand what most economists deny; sunk costs count. Sunk costs influence behavior and believing this, some increase the investment in their promise to exercise. They believe the dual investment will increase the probability of honoring the resolution to exercise.

Alas, the odds of success are not good: “…36% of Americans’ 2014 New Year’s resolutions were around personal fitness. Perhaps you have been part of the 50% of people who make resolutions who break on or all of your goals by mid-January.” ( Research also shows that less than 10% of people who resolve to change with the start of a new year actually do.

What can an individual to better the odds of attaining the goal of weight loss and personal fitness? A key is to make exercise a habit and choose a diet that works: Quick ones don’t last. Join a health club and sign up for fitness classes. Find friends to meet there. This combines positive reinforcement with monitoring: “Oh I missed seeing you at our Wednesday class!” This helps to sticking to your resolutions.

In addition to companionship and reinforcement of goals, our health club is an attractive place to meet, have coffee, and discuss the joys of a long and active life. I suggest joining and meeting friends at yours is an excellent way to honor New Year’s resolutions.

Article by John A. Baden, Ph.D.