How to commit to an exercise plan
Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center provides a guest post on healthy eating. Have questions or ideas for future topics? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. This week, nutritionist Rachel Ernzen (pictured), weighs in on beginning an exercise regime.
With all the extra calories and added stress of the December holidays, does losing weight and exercising top your New Year’s resolution list every year? If you’re like most people, chances are you won’t be able to keep up with your resolution past June.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans emphasize that all adults should avoid inactivity. Research has shown that some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
The American Heart Association encourages at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, or 30 minutes, five days a week. Other benefits of regular exercise include improved immune function and mental clarity, better sleep, and strong bones and muscles.
Most people can and should exercise. However, there are those with injuries and unstable medical conditions who should check with their doctor before starting a fitness program.
Here are some tips to help you overcome the odds and turn a difficult resolution into reality.
Choose your attitude How do you view exercise? If the words “time consuming” or “boring” come to mind, try putting a positive spin on your outlook. Physical activity can boost energy, dissolve stress and release tension.
Find an environment that feels approachable for exercise. Explore early-morning mall walking, off-peak hours at the gym, exercise DVDs or fitness video games you can participate in at home.
Move in new ways. Try water aerobics or yoga, sign up for salsa dance lessons or jump into a Boot Camp or Zumba fitness class.
Make a lifestyle change You’re motivated and ready to turn over a new leaf. But before you hit the ground running, ask yourself these questions:
Is my goal attainable? Start slowly and be mindful of pain. Mild soreness is normal; severe soreness or pain is not. Include rest.
Healthy weight loss is defined as one-half to two pounds per week. At this pace, it is realistic to lose 20 pounds in four to eight months, not 20 pounds in four to eight weeks.
Is my goal sustainable? If you have to replace your morning mocha latte and pastry for whole-grain oatmeal and black coffee to reach your goal, can you agree to sustain it?
Develop a plan Recruit support by joining a running group, seek out an exercise buddy or enlist the help of family in committing to healthier eating at home. Group efforts build accountability and a sense of companionship. New habits become more fun and more consistent with a friend.
Set aside time every day for exercise. Remember, each workout puts you closer to your goals.
Choose aerobic activities you enjoy. Start with 10-15 minutes of exercise daily and add five minutes to your routine weekly until you reach your goal.
Beat the odds this year and discover a healthier you. How do you help yourself stay on track? Share in the comments.