The best way to stick to an exercise regime is to go to bed before 9:44pm, tell someone else about your plans and pack your gym gear two-and-a-half hours in advance.
Having three sets of exercise clothes, taking two days off a week and going to the gym first thing in the morning to “get it out of the way” are other tips people swear by to stick with their fitness plans.
The poll of 2,000 adults found 54 per cent reckon they need to exercise more often than they currently do, with a lack of time, motivation and money named as the biggest barriers.
But 37 per cent struggle more during January than at any other time of the year, with 56 per cent putting it down to the dark mornings and evenings making it harder to get going.
Andy Birch, of health club group Virgin Active, said: “One of the most important things when it comes to exercising is being motivated – if you aren’t, it can be easy to find any little excuse to talk yourself out of going.
“We all know January can be the hardest time of year to get yourself motivated thanks to the Christmas hangover, the short, dark days and the cold weather. One of the best ways to do this is to find a workout that works for you. Whether that’s classes, gym, swim or a mixture of all three.”
Virgin Active worked with mathematician Dr Andrea Baronchelli from City University of London to create a formula to get people motivated and prevent them from backing out of their gym plans at the last minute.
The equation factors in the number of gym buddies you have, how far in advance you prepare your fitness gear, the delay between finishing work and exercising and even the temperature.
The study found the 55 per cent of gym goers who reckon they are good at sticking with their plans swear by going to bed early to make sure they are not too tired.
They also tell at least one person of their plans so it is harder to back out and have three different sets of fitness clothes to make sure they always have something to wear.
Other tips include leaving two days between sessions and heading to the gym straight from the office, without a chance to sit down. Thirty-eight per cent also find it easier to exercise with a friend.
But eight in ten admit to coming up with an excuse to get out of exercising, with being too tired the most popular. Others avoid going to the gym because it’s too hot or cold, they have a hangover or have been left to go alone by a friend they usually go with.
“It’s the weekend”, “my gym kit is still dirty” and “my battery has died so I can’t listen to music” are other excuses people use to explain their absence at the gym.