If you included at least one health and fitness item in your new year’s resolutions, you’re not alone. It’s the top category for Americans, but these good goals are typically the first to fall by the wayside. Good news. It doesn’t need to be that way in 2017.
Too many people set their goals too high and try to fast-track their fitness routine. They view getting fit as drudgery; instead, make it fun and challenging. Start out with smaller goals and work your way up to a more challenging program.
For instance, if your objective is to run a 5K in 2017, break your training into manageable steps, basing your plan on your current fitness level. If you’ve been mostly sedentary, start with 10 to 15 minutes of walking several days a week, then add small increments of jogging alternating with walking. Increase your distance a little every week, add a bit more jogging, and within four to six months, you’re ready for that first road race. Modify your training plan to match your abilities, pushing yourself a little more each week.
Perhaps you want to increase your overall health and fitness. In this case, again start out small in the early weeks. Walk as much as you can, choosing parking spaces farthest from the door to the grocery store, mall entrance or the office. Those extra steps can add up. Getting a wearable fitness tracker can help keep you motivated and will help you increase your target number of daily steps on a weekly basis.
The same applies if your objective is improving your muscle strength. We’re not talking about becoming a body builder, but research has shown that as people age, they lose muscle tone. Especially for women, maintaining a good range of motion and moderate muscle tone can help prevent osteoporosis.
Resistance exercises, those that use your own body weight to work your muscles, can be very effective. Total Resistance Exercises by using a TRX strap, available at TRX.com, provide a good workout with a minimum of risk for injury. Start out small in short sessions and gradually increase your workout.
Here are some basic tips for keeping your New Year’s fitness goals:
• Start small and work your way to more challenging training a week at a time. Pledge to increase your activity a little each week.
• Make fitness appointments with yourself, putting them on your daily calendar just as you would any other meeting. Honor the appointment as a commitment to yourself.
• Build warm-up and cool-down time into your routine, including stretches for your major muscle groups.
• Consider your current fitness/activity level and use it as your benchmark/starting place.
• Write down your goals and create a written plan for increasing them. Include the type of exercise you will be doing, what it does and for how long.
• Celebrate the intermediate successes, such as building your routine to 30 minutes four times a week, or being able to jog for a mile without having to take breaks to walk.
• Always check with your health care provider before embarking on any exercise, fitness or diet program.
The keys are to make a written plan and stick to it, gradually increase your routine, allow yourself days of rest, and make your workout fun. You’d be surprised how easy it is to stick to your 2017 New Year’s Resolutions. You really don’t need to do much to get started.