It’s the very beginning of the New Year, and after another challenging year, we’re all ready to make a positive, healthy change. After all, new year, new me, right?
According to a 2021 study published by the Statista Research Department, around 50% of people chose to start exercising as their New Year’s resolution — the most popular resolution. However, in 2018, 13% of respondents said they did not follow through with their resolutions.
If you make New Year’s resolutions, you know that they are often easier to start than keep. Sometimes, life seems to get in the way of achieving our exercise goals.
We all know exercising is good for our physical health. But did you know being active can improve your mood, help you sleep, boost your energy level, and lower your risks for several types of chronic diseases and cancers?
“Exercising can help almost every physical, emotional, and mental ailment that we have,” said Joel Inman, a physician at Family Care Center of Taylorsville, part of the Iredell Physician Network.
This year, start your exercise resolution off on the right foot. Set reasonable goals, make exercising a priority, keep yourself on track, find something you enjoy doing, and above all, don’t give up.
Set Reasonable Goals
Before starting your exercise resolution, set attainable goals that you can actually keep and eventually reach.
“We all know someone who buys a gym membership along with all the exercise clothes and shoes, and then spends two hours at the gym. By the next day, they’re so sore they can’t move. Then, they oftentimes get discouraged and feel like they failed,” said Inman. “But they didn’t fail. They just set too lofty of a goal.”
Exercise shouldn’t hurt if you go slow and ease into any new workout or activity.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. If you can talk while you’re working out — but not sing — you are exercising at a moderate intensity.
Initially, 150 minutes a week may seem like a lot, but you can break it up into 30 minutes for five days a week. You can also do two 15-minute segments in a day or three 10-minute segments.
If you are not used to exercising, start where you feel comfortable and gradually work up to that 150-minute goal.
“Thirty minutes a day may not be reasonable for someone who is not used to exercising. If you’re not doing any exercise, walking 10 minutes, even just throughout your house, is a big deal,” said Inman.
Start out with a goal you feel comfortable achieving. You can always re-evaluate and set another goal down the road. For example, after walking 10 minutes a day for a while, you may realize you can start walking 15 or 20 minutes a day.
Stick to a Schedule
According to Inman, sticking to a schedule and prioritizing exercise are key.
“You should make a decision as to when you are going to exercise. Whether that’s before work or after,” said Inman.
Getting up a half-hour earlier than you usually do and starting your mornings with a run may work best for you. If you have a 30 minute or an hour-long lunch, try walking 15 minutes of that time.
To keep yourself accountable, start an exercise log.
“I run myself and keep a running log. That way, I know how much I ran last week or even last year. An exercise log can help you stay on schedule and keep track of your goals,” said Inman.
Make Exercise Enjoyable
You may think exercise is boring, but maybe you just have not made exercising enjoyable.
Find something you enjoy doing. You’re more likely to stick with exercises that you find fun. If you don’t enjoy your current exercise program, switch things up.
“If you are used to walking on a treadmill, try a stationary bike. If you’re used to body exercises, try adding some light weights to your routine,” said Inman.
Remember, not everyone is a runner. If you do not enjoy running, try yoga, aerobics, or spin classes.
“Exercise equipment has gotten more reasonable since so many people are doing it. You can get a reasonably priced recumbent bike or even a little treadmill. That way, the weather is always right, and if you enjoy watching TV, you can even do that while working out,” said Inman.
Inman also recommends pairing up with a friend for workouts. Exercise will be less tiresome with a buddy beside you. An exercise friend can also serve as your support system and keep you on track.
“The key is to keep moving. If you get bored with your routine, try something new,” he said.
Don’t Get Discouraged
Starting a new routine can be difficult, so do not give up. Reaching your exercise goals may take time. Gradual, little steps are still strides in the right direction.
And, if you get off track or miss a day, do not get discouraged. Just try again.
Exercises for Home or Work
Inman recommends checking out the American Heart Association’s “10-minute Workout Anywhere.”
It includes exercises like shoulder rolls, calf raises, chair squats, leg lifts, and pushups that you can do at work or home.
You can view this workout, or print a PDF of it at www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/getting-active/10-minute-home-workout
Dr. Inman practices at the Family Care Center of Taylorsville, located at 1668 NC Highway 16 in Taylorsville. To schedule an appointment with Inman, please call 828-632-9736.