Although many people aspire to
exercise more in the new year, nearly
80 percent of adults fail to meet the recommendation for aerobic and
muscle-strengthening activity. In order to achieve any fitness goal, it’s
important to take a step back and determine what’s possible based on health
history, lifestyle, interests and abilities. Consider this step-by-step guide to
kick off the new year on a more active note:
- Step 1:
See a Doctor – Making time for exercise, even just 30 minutes a day,
decreases the risk and effects of seven
of the 10 most common chronic diseases. Because health history and
physical ability impact any exercise regimen, it’s important to check in with a
primary care doctor before pursuing any fitness goals. A quick check-in with
routine screenings allows a person to make more informed decisions about how
and why they would like to be more active.
- Step 2: Define
Goals – Whether the goal is to lose weight, build muscle, increase
flexibility or improve health overall, consider the why and how
as much as the when and where. In order to establish a sustainable
exercise regimen, identify goals that are S.M.A.R.T.E.—specific, measurable, attainable or adjustable, realistic, time-specific and exciting
or enjoyable. No major lifestyle change happens overnight, so consider the
small changes will help achieve larger goals.
- Step 3: Make
a Plan – Between work and home life, finding time and motivation to exercise
can be difficult. Thankfully, integrating movement alongside everyday activities
can minimize the chances of skipping a workout. Those who work long hours at
the office might consider walking meetings or parking farther away to squeeze
in some extra steps throughout the day. Stay-at-home parents can take a few
extra trips up and down the stairs or get the kids involved with living room dance
parties or bedtime yoga sessions.
- Step 4: Nourish
the Body – Food is the anchor of any exercise program. Regardless of the workout
goal, it’s also important to consume a balanced, whole-food-based-diet
including fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Staying
hydrated also plays an important role to overall health and boosts
metabolism. Both women and men should aim to consume at least 64
ounces daily, or half their body weight in ounces.
- Step 5:
Gear Up – Believe it or not, workout wear can
influence the psychological process and improve focus while boosting
confidence. Before exercising, suit up with clothing that encompasses both
fashion and function. Depending on the workout, look for pieces that reduce
sweat or are insulated to create warmth during outdoor training. Non-restrictive
workout wear allows for a full range of motion without compromising comfort.
- Step 6: Tackle
Gym-timidation – Those exploring a new workout regimen may feel intimidated
by the gym atmosphere. Thankfully, there are a variety of alternative routes to
get started. Home
workouts and equipment are useful tools, along with group classes
and exercise apps. Go beyond the traditional means of running or weight lifting
with activities like yoga or Pilates, which increase flexibility, help improve
balance and support joint health. Aerobic activities will strengthen
your heart and lungs, while resistance training will build muscle
and bone density.
Grace Derocha is a registered
dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross
Blue Shield of Michigan. For more health tips, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.