Habits to Start in the New Year for Better Sports Performance

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Do you want to take your sports performance to the next level? If so, you will want to read our recommendations for healthy habits to start in the new year.

Our tips cover the ins and outs of building some healthy habits that will help you achieve your goals and improve your overall well-being.

According to a 2019 study by YouGov, only 26% of people who made New Year’s resolutions actually stuck to them. That means 74% of people fail to follow through with their plans and end up feeling frustrated and disappointed.

But don’t worry, there is a better way to make lasting changes. Instead of setting vague and unrealistic resolutions, you need to set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

These goals will help you create habits to start in the new year, with action steps that are easy to follow and track, and that will bring you closer to where you want to be.

In this post, we’ll share 10 habits you could start in the new year that will help you boost your sports performance and improve your overall health and happiness. 

Are you ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

1. Drink more water for better hydration

One of the most important habits to start in the new year is to drink more water to improve hydration. Water is essential for every cell, tissue and organ in your body, and it plays a key role in your sports performance.

Water helps you to

  • Regulate your body temperature and prevent overheating
  • Transport oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and organs
  • Remove waste products and toxins from your body
  • Lubricate your joints and prevent friction
  • Cushion your brain and spinal cord and protect them from injury

Dehydration, on the other hand, can have negative effects on your sports performance, such as:

  • Reduced endurance and strength
  • Increased fatigue and perceived exertion
  • Impaired concentration and decision-making
  • Increased risk of cramps, headaches, and heat stroke

To make sure you drink enough water

  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you and sip it throughout the day
  • Set reminders on your phone or use an app to track your water intake
  • Drink water with each meal and snack
  • Drink water or sports drinks before, during, and after your workouts
  • Add some flavor to your water with lemon, cucumber, mint, or berries
glass of water with lemon

2. Eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day

Another habit to start in the new year is to eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that can boost your health and performance.

Fruits and vegetables can help you to

  • Fight inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Enhance your immune system and prevent infections
  • Improve your digestion and gut health
  • Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Protect your eyesight and skin health

To eat more fruits and vegetables

  • Include them in every meal and snack
  • Choose a variety of colors and types
  • Eat them fresh, frozen, canned, or dried
  • Blend them into smoothies or juices
  • Roast, grill, steam, or stir-fry them

3. Add whole grains to your diet

A third habit to start in the new year is to add more whole grains to your diet to increase your fiber intake. Whole grains are grains that have not been refined or processed, and they contain all three parts of the grain: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.

Whole grains are a great source of complex carbohydrates, which are your body’s main fuel for exercise. They also provide you with fiber, which can improve your digestive health and lower your risk of chronic diseases.

Some of the benefits of eating more whole grains are:

  • Increased satiety and appetite control
  • Improved blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Enhanced bowel function and regularity
  • Lowered risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers

To add more whole grains to your diet

  • Replace refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, and white pasta, with whole wheat and whole grains
  • Choose whole grain cereals, crackers, and snacks
  • Mix whole grains with beans, nuts, seeds, or dried fruits
  • Use whole grain flours for baking or cooking
  • Try different whole grains, such as quinoa, buckwheat, or amaranth

4. Improve your sleep time and quality

A fourth habit to start in the new year is to improve your sleep time and quality. High quality sleep is key for your health and performance, as it allows your body and mind to recover, repair, and rejuvenate.

Sleep can help you to

  • Consolidate your memory and learning
  • Enhance your creativity and problem-solving
  • Boost your mood and emotional regulation
  • Strengthen your immune system and fight infections
  • Balance your hormones and metabolism

Sleep can also improve your sports performance by

  • Increasing your energy and stamina
  • Improving your reaction time and coordination
  • Optimizing your muscle growth and repair
  • Reducing your muscle fatigue and soreness
  • Preventing overtraining and injury

To improve your sleep time and quality, you can

  • Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time
  • Avoid caffeine before bed
  • Limit your exposure to blue light from screens and devices at night
  • Create a comfortable and dark sleeping environment
  • Follow a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading, meditating, or listening to music
picture of clock with person sleeping in background

5. Find ways to de-stress and meditate

A fifth habit to start in the new year is to find ways to de-stress and meditate. Stress is inevitable in life, but it can have negative effects on your health and performance if you don’t manage it well.

Stress can hurt your sports performance by

  • Decreasing your motivation and enjoyment
  • Increasing your perceived exertion and fatigue
  • Reducing your confidence and self-efficacy
  • Impairing your focus and attention
  • Triggering negative emotions and thoughts

One of the best ways to cope with stress is to practice meditation, which is a technique that involves focusing your attention on a single object, such as your breath, a word, or a sound. Meditation can also enhance your sports performance, as it can:

  • Calm your mind and body
  • Relax your muscles and nerves
  • Lower your blood pressure and heart rate
  • Improve your mood and well-being
  • Increase your awareness and mindfulness
  • Improve your concentration and clarity
  • Enhance your mental toughness and resilience
  • Foster your positive attitude and outlook
  • Boost your self-control and discipline

The recommended length of meditation is at least 10 minutes a day, but you can start with as little as 5 minutes to start building the habit.

6. Get outside for fresh air and exercise

A sixth habit to start in the new year is to get outside for some fresh air and exercise. Spending time outdoors can have many benefits for your health and performance, such as:

  • Improving your mood and reducing stress
  • Boosting your immune system and fighting infections
  • Increasing your exposure to natural light and vitamin D
  • Enhancing your creativity and problem-solving
  • Expanding your social network and support

To get outside more often

  • Plan your workouts ahead and schedule them in your calendar
  • Find a buddy or a group to join you and keep you accountable
  • Explore new places and routes that interest you
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and the season

7. Have a pre-workout snack or meal

A seventh habit to start in the new year is to make sure you have a pre-workout snack or pre game meal before games and practices. It can help you to:

  • Boost your energy and stamina
  • Prevent low blood sugar and hunger
  • Spare your muscle glycogen and protein
  • Enhance your focus and concentration
  • Reduce your risk of gastrointestinal distress

Build your pre game meal and snack habit

  • Plan your meals ahead and prepare them in advance
  • Choose high carbohydrates that are easy to digest
  • Avoid foods that are high in fat, fiber, or spices
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids

8. Practice self care and celebrate success

An eighth habit to start in the new year is to be kind to yourself and celebrate your achievements. Practicing self care means treating yourself with compassion, respect, and care, and acknowledging your feelings and needs. This habit can help you to:

  • Improve your mental and emotional health
  • Reduce your stress and anxiety
  • Increase your self-esteem and self-worth
  • Enhance your resilience and coping skills
  • Promote your happiness and satisfaction
  • Being kind to yourself can also improve your sports performance, as it can:

Check out our posts on affirmations for athletes for more ideas.

picture of post it notes with positive messages

9. Eat a recovery meal after games and practices

A ninth habit to start in the new year is to have a recovery meal after your workouts. A recovery meal is a meal that you eat within an hour after your practice or game exercise session, consisting of a combination of protein and carbohydrates. It can help you to:

  • Replenish your energy and glycogen stores
  • Repair your muscle tissue and prevent breakdown
  • Reduce your muscle soreness and inflammation
  • Enhance your immune system and prevent infections
  • Optimize your adaptation and performance

To help build this recovery meal habit:

  • Plan your meals ahead and prepare them in advance
  • Pack your meals and snacks in a cooler or a bag
  • Choose foods that are easy to digest and absorb
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids

10. Build snacks that have protein and carbs

A tenth and final habit to start in the new year is to build snacks that have protein and carbs. Snacks are small meals that you eat between your main meals, and they can help you to:

  • Fuel your workouts and prevent fatigue
  • Support your muscle growth and repair
  • Enhance your recovery and adaptation
  • Improve your endurance and strength
  • Increase your motivation and enjoyment

Check out our guides on healthy snacks and meals for more ideas on building snacks with carbs and protein.

To build healthy snacks for athletes that have protein and carbs, you can:

  • Stock up on healthy and convenient foods
  • Mix and match different foods and flavors
  • Experiment with different recipes and combinations
  • Portion your snacks and store them in containers or bags
  • Snack smartly and mindfully

Final thoughts

There you have it, 10 habits to start in the new year that will help you improve your sports performance and your overall health and well-being. have worked for many athletes.

By creating these habits, you’ll be able to:

  • Boost your physical and mental performance
  • Reduce your risk of injury and illness
  • Speed up your recovery and adaptation
  • Increase your motivation and confidence
  • Enjoy your sport and have more fun

Take action and try out one of these habits to start in the new year.

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