Remember what resolutions you swore you’d stick to? Have you been sticking to them? One of the most common resolutions is to be more active or to lose weight. It can be tough to stick to it if you aren’t sure how to even get started. Luckily we’re breaking it down so you have all the tools you need to have a successful 2019!
For starters, being more active and moving more can make you healthier overall. Physical activity has been found to:
- Lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, several kinds of cancer and weight gain
- Help keep your mind sharp as you get older and lower your risk of dementia and Alzheimers
- Improve mood and sleep
- Slow down the effects of aging
- Increase energy
How to get started
The great thing about getting fit is that you can start exactly where you are. So let’s get the foundation started first.
Check Your Health
If you have health worries, this is the time to talk to your doctor or physical therapist before you start exercising. Make sure your healthcare provider knows all the medications you are taking. If you have muscle or joint pain or problems, ask to pair your exercise routine with physical therapy and/or massage therapy.
Exercise with a Friend
Do activities you enjoy with a buddy from school, work or home. Those who exercise with a friend tend to stick with it longer than those who do it alone.
If you’re just starting out, try something simple like walking. All you need is a good pair of shoes! Many people learn new exercises and recommended techniques from their therapists when going to physical therapy. You can take what you learn from physical therapy, and enhance your daily workouts.
Use a smart phone or activity tracker to measure your progress and stay motivated. Count your steps daily and try to build up to 7,500-10,000 steps daily!
Aerobic activity increases your heart rate and breathing. Build up to doing 150 minutes per week of medium effort activity, 75 minutes per week of challenging activity or a combination of both. You’ll improve your stamina and heart health.
What: Any rhythmic, continuous activity!
How often: 3-5 days/week
How hard: Fairly light to somewhat hard
How much: Start with 5-10 minutes. Gradually build up to 30-60 minutes.
Remember: Walking, biking, dancing, swimming and water exercise are great. Fit in 10, 15, 30 minutes whenever you can. It all adds up. To lose weight, do twice as much activity.
Strength training, for example working with weights or resistance bands, makes you stronger and helps your overall health. Plus, strength training can make daily activities like lifting laundry baskets or yard work easier and safer.
What: Hand weights, resistance bands, weight machines, or your own body (for example, kitchen counter push-ups or chair squats).
How often: 2-3 days per week.
How hard: Start with light effort. Build up to medium or hard effort.
How much: 10-15 repetitions to start (for each major muscle group). Build up to 8-12 reps of challenging effort. Repeat 2-4 times.
Remember: Avoid straining or holding your breath when lifting. If you need it, get help from an experienced personal trainer or physical therapist. They can teach you the right way to do exercises and how to breathe properly.
Other Types of Physical Activity
- Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates help with balance, flexibility and strength, and are relaxing too!
- Flexibility: Stretch your muscles 2-7 days per week to the point of feeling tightness. Hold for 10-30 seconds (30-60 seconds for older adults).