Willpower in the East Midlands put to the test for Cancer Research UK

Men in the East Midlands are thought to be worse than women at giving up alcohol for a month, according to a new poll from Cancer Research UK testing the region’s willpower.

The survey marks the launch of the charity’s latest fundraising campaign, Dryathlon, and reveals some fascinating insights.

Dryathlon challenges people to put their resolve to the test by staying off alcohol throughout January to raise money for a seriously worthwhile cause - life-saving research into cancer.

The results of the OnePoll survey suggest that the blokes in the East Midlands have less willpower than the ladies once they set their mind to a challenge, taking 16 per cent of the vote compared with 31 per cent.

So Cancer Research UK is calling on them to ‘man-up’ and go head-to-head with the girls by pledging their commitment to Dryathlon now, ahead of the New Year.

For while almost half (49 per cent) of those questioned in the East Midlands thought men had more willpower in committing to taking part in sport, almost two fifths (39 per cent) thought women had more staying power when it came to banishing the booze for a month.

On the question of giving up sex for a month, the survey suggests the region’s lads would lag behind the lasses, with only three per cent of respondents thinking men would have more willpower to do so, compared to 57 per cent for women in the East Midlands!

One group of people who don’t lack willpower are the world-class Cancer Research UK scientists, doctors and nurses striving to beat cancer. Survival rates for the disease have doubled over the past 40 years and the charity has been at the heart of that progress. But it needs more funds and more supporters if it is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. That’s where Dryathlon comes in.

Those who are man enough – or woman-enough – to drop the drink for January will be encouraged to get sponsored by family, friends and work colleagues. Or they can simply pledge the money they save by going dry for the month.

And for those who don’t feel they can commit to the full four weeks there’s the opportunity to purchase a Golden Pass, for a suggested donation of £15, which allows the owner to take 24 hours off – particularly helpful for weddings, birthdays or those who just fancy a night off.

Ed Aspel, Head of Dryathlon at Cancer Research UK and already in training, said: “We wanted to explore the concept of willpower as we launch Dryathlon because we know that getting people in the East Midlands to go dry for January is going to be a challenge for some, and it will take an element of willpower to succeed.

“But have no fear! We’ll be supporting our Dryathletes the whole way, by providing lots of motivational tips via our website and social media channels. It may be a difficult road ahead but we have faith in the people of the East Midlands and think they have what it takes to succeed.”

When asked how they thought willpower changed over the year, around half (51 per cent) of people questioned in the East Midlands admitted that the winter period – Christmas and New Year in particular – is when they are at their weakest.

So, with this in mind, Cancer Research UK is encouraging everyone to commit to Dryathlon in December, knowing they will have a challenge ahead of them for a good cause when their willpower picks up in January.

Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology at the CRUK Health Behaviour Research Centre, said: “When you take exposure to temptation and strength of desire out of the equation you are left with this thing called ‘willpower’: the force that our plans have in controlling our actions. Individuals with more willpower are probably more likely to achieve their objectives, whatever these might be.”

“Some believe that willpower is like a muscle - it can get tired but it can also be strengthened with training. The idea is that getting people to practice doing something that requires self-control builds a general ability to do this. There are also studies showing that when people make their personal rules very clear with well-defined boundaries, they are more likely to stick to them.”