It’s that time of year when many people are making resolutions to get in shape and be more healthy—are you one of them?
Depending on your current fitness level, getting fit in 2015 may be a big challenge, especially if you are used to a sedentary lifestyle. Don’t let that discourage you. Resolving to live a healthier lifestyle, including regular exercise and proper nutrition, will bring benefits for years to come.
Each year, fitness ranks among the top New Year’s resolutions made, but most people will abandon their resolution by the end of January. In order to stick to your resolution, you must first make your goal specific and realistic. Next, remember that you won’t reach your end goal over a short period of time.
Many people break their resolutions simply because they get burned out. They approach their goal too hard and too fast, and don’t allow themselves time to gradually work toward their end goal. Physical training requires careful planning and preparation—it’s a process. Approaching your physical fitness too aggressively can easily lead to burnout and even potential injury.
Use these tips to help you reach your fitness resolution in 2015:
- Consult your physician. Before you begin any workout regimen, it’s important to meet with your doctor to discuss your plans. Your doctor will let you know if there are any precautions you should take due to your current health and fitness level.
- Meet with a trainer. A certified professional fitness trainer can help you define your goals and develop a structured exercise plan to achieve those goals. A trainer will also take the time to teach you proper form for various exercises, which will help you avoid injury. You do not have to meet with a trainer every time you want to work out, but scheduling a few appointments with a trainer will be beneficial, and checking in periodically throughout the year can help you stay on track.
- Balance your fitness. A balanced fitness plan should incorporate elements of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility. A well-rounded workout plan not only gives you a full body workout—it also adds variety, which can keep you from getting bored and help you stay motivated to reach your goals. Work various forms of each of these elements into your plan for even more variety. For example, every cardio workout does not have to be the same. One day, you may attend a class at your gym, while another day you may go for a run outside. Don’t be afraid to change things up.
- Warm up and stretch. Before each workout, give your body time to prepare for exercise by warming up. Warming up is important to get your blood flowing and loosen muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. Begin each workout with a brisk walk, or spend some time on the elliptical or on a bike in the gym, starting out slowly and gradually increasing intensity. Once your body is warmed up, take some time to stretch each muscle group. Stretches should be slow and controlled, holding each for 10 to 20 seconds.
- Take your time. Never rush through a workout; doing so may lead to injury. This is especially important during a strength training workout. Each repetition should be performed slowly as you work through the full range of motion.
- Cool down. When you schedule your daily workout, give yourself time to fit in both the warm up and cool down before and after your exercise. The cooling phase is the final phase of a workout, during which you slow your motions and decrease the intensity of your exercise. Give yourself at least 10 minutes to cool down before you end your workout for the day.
- Rest. Taking time to rest is absolutely essential. Your body needs time off from exercise. A good rule of thumb is to plan three to five days of workout each week, with regular days for rest. If you are experiencing fatigue or pain, that’s a good sign your body needs a break.
If you are getting back to an active lifestyle after some time off, start by working out two to three days each week with a rest day in between, gradually increasing your number of weekly workouts. In general, it is recommended that adults get 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity. Even if you can only fit in 10 minutes of exercise here or there during the day, you will still reap the benefits.