CHARLOTTE – The New Year is here, and by tradition, many of us start out the beginning of a fresh year with fresh goals. Creating new goals presents a fresh start, and many people like to set new health and exercise goals. The intentions always start out great, but over time people often feel overcommitted and fall short. If this is you, this is your year.
There is a way to turn this habit around. The first step to making sure you follow through with your new health and exercise goal is to understand why you are setting the goal, what the purpose of the goal is, and what will drive you.
Understanding why you want to achieve your goal and making sure you are realistic and accountable for the goal is the first step. Following through is the next. “Exercise is good for your mind and body,” encourages Lisa Kaye Cannada, MD, Orthopedic Trauma Surgery. “January is always a time of resolution. I encourage you to make exercise a habit by starting small with fun activities of low intensity and building from there. Happy healthy year ahead to you!”
When thinking about setting an exercise goal, the notion is that you need to spend five days a week in the gym for over an hour. That is a common misconception that many people have, and often it scares people away from exercising in general. There are so many different ways to exercise and incorporate daily fitness into your life without taking “chunks” of time out of your schedule. The key to creating a good exercise routine in your life is to make yourself accountable for making sure that you exercise, whether that is in a gym, at home, or at a friend’s house. Ask others for help, make a calendar where you can check off the days that you exercised, create a routine that is in your week that supports your schedule, and make yourself accountable for taking the time to include any type of exercise in your life. The more accountable you make yourself, the more of a habit it will become.
Creating a habit of exercising is one successful way to do more, but exercise doesn’t always have to mean being in the gym. Exercising more can simply mean cleaning your house while listening to music and getting that heart beating faster than usual. The goal is to get the heart “going” and create a healthy routine that can be supported by your lifestyle. If you like shopping, park further away from the door and make several extra laps around the store or the mall. The extra steps add up fast, and adding more to the routine will soon become your exercise, and you will feel better each time that you complete more. Thinking about success and counting the “wins” each time that you exercise will make the routine easier and allow you to create a routine of exercise without the stress of being in a gym.
Often an exercise routine is thought of as a gym membership. With all the resources that we now have available, the gym is a great place to exercise if that is the routine that works best for you, but if it hasn’t then it is time to start thinking outside of those walls. Success at exercising has to outweigh the thought of how it “should” be done. Creating an exercise routine with resources outside of the gym can be as simple as making a list of local parks and going to walk at each of them, renting/buying exercise videos to do at home or with a friend, using home gym equipment, and using activity-based technology like video gyms or gym equipment. Any type of exercise is a success, and creating success is the key to maintaining a routine that will be best for you. Plus, don’t forget to reward yourself from time to time: doing an extra lap at the park and then going for a cup of coffee, for example. Success and reward systems often work very well for getting motivated to create and continue with a healthy exercise routine.
Exercise comes with many misconceptions, and many of us use them as excuses not to even try to move more. Often we use excuses like “I am too busy,” “I am too tired,” “I am too overweight,” or even “I am too old to start now.” These misconceptions are always going to be myths. If your schedule is too busy, then do shorter intervals of exercise; walk for 10 mins a few times a day a couple of days a week. If you feel like you are too tired to exercise, then you should make it even more of a priority! Exercising increases your energy and will boost your levels, making it easier to move, and you will have more energy overall. If you’re feeling too overweight to exercise, have never exercised before, or feel like you may be too old to start, first check with your physician. Then start with adding more activities to your life. Walking in a swimming pool is a great way to get started. Playing mini-golf, walking at a local school with a track, or even walking around the mall is a simple way to add exercise and have some fun while you are doing it.
Always remember, exercise does not always mean pain. The “no pain, no gain” theory for physical exercise does not apply to bettering your health. If you are experiencing pain, don’t overdo it. Start with low intensity and short intervals working your way up to more. This gets the body used to the movement without causing injury, which can set you back even more. Walking even 5 to 10 minutes a couple of times a day will add up quickly, and before you know it, the routine of accountability will be there, the habit will form, you will be exercising more and feeling more confident about adding more. Count movement, create success, and win the reward.