With the holidays behind us and possibly a few extra pounds under our belts it is time to start thinking about getting healthy or staying healthy. Physical activity and exercise are important at any age, but sometimes we don’t know where to start or how to start so we just don’t. Well, this blog is going to change your mind set and help you get on track to have a healthy active lifestyle for 2022! We have some simple tips to help you get started, stay motived, and keep moving all through the year.
First of all, it is important to know your limits and physical abilities before you jump on the exercise band wagon with P90X or Insanity (or some other infomercial that is on late night TV). In my experience, unless you are already doing a crossfit or very advanced type of exercise regimen, those type of workouts will only lead to quick injury and set you back on your goals, often leaving you discouraged and beat up (literally). If you felt winded walking through the mall this past holiday season, or winded when going to the grocery store, start where you are at and work up to it. Any exercise routine is much more fun and delightful when you are not injuring g yourself beyond repair after your first workout. For people who have not really “exercised” a simple walking program aiming for 20 minutes at a moderate pace is a great beginner program and can easily be built on as you get stronger and become more fit. It is also not a bad idea to consult with your doctor before starting a program, just to make sure you are safe to start (particularly Men over the age of 45 or women over the age of 55).
Second, set some short-term goals to get you motived and long term goals to keep you you motived and long term goals to keep you motivated. Goals help you to keep on task and focused. Every person’s goals should match their abilities. If you are just starting, having a goal of walking around the block without getting short of breath is a great idea. If you are already fairly active, maybe setting a goal to attend a workout class 3 times a week is a good short term goal. For long term goals don’t think of weight loss goals, although that can be important, think more ability based goals. I had a friend who set a long term goal that she would be able to knee board by the summer. This goal entailed her to lose weight, but also gain in strength and balance. It was not just about losing weight, but getting to enjoy something fun with her family. She set her mind to it and reached her goal! Functional goals are much more motivating then slimming down, but tends to come hand in hand when you become more physically active.
Third, encompass all aspects of physical activity so that your program is well rounded. All routines should have some piece of aerobic activity, some portion of strength training, and a portion of flexibility training. Many people have a general concept of getting active and moving, often even including some stretching in their routines, but are afraid or possibly just disregard adding any strength training to their program. Strength training can come in many
forms and often can be performed without equipment or can be achieved at a low cost to just get some resistance bands. Pushups are a perfect example of an exercise that is good for strengthening, requires no equipment, and can be tailored to any fitness level. You can start with standing wall push-ups, then progress to counter-top pushups, then
*Image curtesy of Alska Premier Health
maybe coffee table pushups, finally progressing to floor pushups with bent knees and then straight. Any strengthening exercises should be performed for 10-12 repetitions and the last 2-3 repetitions should feel slightly difficult but still doable. There are a lot of body weight exercises that require no equipment and can be tailored in many ways to fit your fitness level. If you have never watched “Brad and Bob” they are some very funny PTs who put out amazing videos on Youtube for all types of ailments. They have a great beginner workout video that will help you to test your ability and give you some good ideas of how to start easy strength training without equipment. If you are more advanced there are a lot of resources on Youtube, just be careful what you try and if it doesn’t feel right STOP! For Brad and Bob’s video click here. They also have some great resources for stretching!
Finally, give yourself some GRACE! You are going to have good days and bad days. Some days you may lose your motivation or focus, other days you may push yourself too far and require a few extra recovery days. Do not get yourself in such a rigid routine that if you miss a day or two you feel discouraged. Discouragement leads to decreased motivation, which will derail your whole fitness plan and keep you from reaching your goals. Allow yourself enough wiggle room in your routine to give yourself grace on the days that don’t go as well, but not so much wiggle room that you get off track.
Hopefully, these simple tips will help you get moving and reach your fitness goals. Whatever your level, goals, or motivation have fun with it! Exercise regimens are more closely followed when people enjoy what they are doing. So get out, have fun, get moving, and stay motivated.