London: People begin New Year resolutions seriously enough -- only to abandon them midway. But having a friend can boost the likelihood of sticking to them, suggests a study.

This finding implies that buddy schemes could make a big difference to people following dieting plans, health programmes and could be integrated into state-run wellbeing initiatives.
 
'Specific plans regarding when, where and how a person will act have been termed implementation intentions,' explained Mark Conner, professor in psychology at the University of Leeds, who co-authored the study.
 
'We already know that these kinds of plans can be really effective. You set up cues that prompt your planned behaviour, if I walk to work on Monday, then I will jog home, if I feel hungry before lunch then I will eat an apple, not a chocolate bar,' said Conner.
 
Research by Conner and colleagues Andrew Prestwich and Rebecca Lawton from Leeds has now demonstrated that this effect can be made even stronger if you get other people - friends, family, colleagues - involved too, according to a university statement.
 
The team worked with employees from 15 councils who volunteered to participate in two studies attempting to increase their levels of exercise or improve their diet.
 
'We followed up after one, three and six months to see how the employees were doing. And it was quite clear that working together and joint planning really helped employees stick to their new exercise regimes. Moreover, the involvement of a partner in planning had a sustained effect that was still noticeable after six months,' concluded Connor.

(Agencies)