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Eight Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

Eight Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Fitness Resolutions
Eight Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Fitness Resolutions
Are you among the 45 percent of Americans who will make a New Year’s resolution this year? Did you know only about eight percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution will succeed?

Are you among the 45 percent of Americans who will make a New Year’s resolution this year? Did you know only about eight percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution will succeed?

Don’t let the statistics discourage you. The key to success is having a realistic goal and a practical plan to achieve that goal.

Health and fitness-related resolutions rank among the top five New Year’s resolutions every year. If getting fit is your aim and you want to keep your motivation going beyond January 31, use these tips to design a plan you can stick to.

Set a specific, realistic goal. Setting an unspecific goal such as “lose weight” or “get fit” won’t get you very far. Instead, be specific in your goal, but be realistic, too. For example, make a goal to exercise three days a week or forego sweets. Then break that into smaller weekly and daily goals. Give yourself a break if you have an off day or even an off week. It’s easy to be “all or nothing” and to simply give up if you get off track. Focus on your progress, not on perfection, and you’ll be more likely to succeed.

Find a buddy. If motivation and accountability are a struggle for you (and you’re certainly not alone if they are), find a friend to join you in your workouts or consider joining an exercise group or class. When you know others are expecting you, you’re less likely to skip your workout. And when you lose your motivation, a workout buddy will encourage you to keep moving.

Sleep. If you want to be fit and healthy, you’ve got to get rest. Even adults should get six to eight hours of sleep every night, and sleep deprivation is cumulative. In other words, you never really “catch up” on sleep. Lack of sleep not only has negative effects on your physical performance, it also affects your health. A Stanford University study of basketball players found that when players slept more, they ran faster and had better shooting accuracy. Lack of sleep also affects your immunity and puts you at a higher risk of being overweight, developing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Fuel your body. It goes without saying that your body needs food to be healthy, but what are the best foods to eat before or after a workout? Start your day with a healthy breakfast (fruit, protein and whole grains) to raise your blood sugar when you first wake up. A light snack right before a workout will keep you from getting hungry during exercise. Again, fresh fruits, protein (peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, cheese, etc.) and whole grains make the best snacks. Eat a full meal within two hours after your workout. Carbohydrates and proteins will help your muscles recover and replenish glycogen stores.

Drink up. Hydrating is also key to fueling your body. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking two to three glasses of water two to three hours before your workout; one-half to one cup of water during your workout; and two to three cups after your workout for every pound of weight lost during the workout. Steer clear of sports drinks unless you’re working out more than an hour at a time.

Stretch. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, stretching will help with flexibility and agility. Stretch each major muscle group at least twice per week, holding each stretch for 60 seconds or more.

Give yourself time off. As much as your body needs exercise, it also needs time to rest and recuperate. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio (aerobic) exercise each week. That’s 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. You can also break it into shorter segments, if needed. Even working out 10 minutes here and there three times a day is beneficial. When it comes to weight training, most experts recommend giving your muscles 24 to 48 hours of rest between each weightlifting workout, so plan on no more than three strength training sessions per week. Keep in mind that in some cases, strength training may be combined with cardio such as in circuit training, which focuses on body weight exercises. These drills get your heart rate up while toning and strengthening.

Celebrate every small achievement along the way. When you reach small milestones along the way toward your ultimate goal, take some time to celebrate and revel in that achievement. It’s easy to get bogged down when you’re so focused on the end result, but recognizing the progress you’re making will keep you motivated to continue moving forward.

Are you among the 45 percent of Americans who will make a New Year’s resolution this year? Did you know only about eight percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution will succeed?

Don’t let the statistics discourage you. The key to success is having a realistic goal and a practical plan to achieve that goal.

Health and fitness-related resolutions rank among the top five New Year’s resolutions every year. If getting fit is your aim and you want to keep your motivation going beyond January 31, use these tips to design a plan you can stick to.

Set a specific, realistic goal. Setting an unspecific goal such as “lose weight” or “get fit” won’t get you very far. Instead, be specific in your goal, but be realistic, too. For example, make a goal to exercise three days a week or forego sweets. Then break that into smaller weekly and daily goals. Give yourself a break if you have an off day or even an off week. It’s easy to be “all or nothing” and to simply give up if you get off track. Focus on your progress, not on perfection, and you’ll be more likely to succeed.

Find a buddy. If motivation and accountability are a struggle for you (and you’re certainly not alone if they are), find a friend to join you in your workouts or consider joining an exercise group or class. When you know others are expecting you, you’re less likely to skip your workout. And when you lose your motivation, a workout buddy will encourage you to keep moving.

Sleep. If you want to be fit and healthy, you’ve got to get rest. Even adults should get six to eight hours of sleep every night, and sleep deprivation is cumulative. In other words, you never really “catch up” on sleep. Lack of sleep not only has negative effects on your physical performance, it also affects your health. A Stanford University study of basketball players found that when players slept more, they ran faster and had better shooting accuracy. Lack of sleep also affects your immunity and puts you at a higher risk of being overweight, developing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Fuel your body. It goes without saying that your body needs food to be healthy, but what are the best foods to eat before or after a workout? Start your day with a healthy breakfast (fruit, protein and whole grains) to raise your blood sugar when you first wake up. A light snack right before a workout will keep you from getting hungry during exercise. Again, fresh fruits, protein (peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, cheese, etc.) and whole grains make the best snacks. Eat a full meal within two hours after your workout. Carbohydrates and proteins will help your muscles recover and replenish glycogen stores.

Drink up. Hydrating is also key to fueling your body. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking two to three glasses of water two to three hours before your workout; one-half to one cup of water during your workout; and two to three cups after your workout for every pound of weight lost during the workout. Steer clear of sports drinks unless you’re working out more than an hour at a time.

Stretch. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, stretching will help with flexibility and agility. Stretch each major muscle group at least twice per week, holding each stretch for 60 seconds or more.

Give yourself time off. As much as your body needs exercise, it also needs time to rest and recuperate. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio (aerobic) exercise each week. That’s 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. You can also break it into shorter segments, if needed. Even working out 10 minutes here and there three times a day is beneficial. When it comes to weight training, most experts recommend giving your muscles 24 to 48 hours of rest between each weightlifting workout, so plan on no more than three strength training sessions per week. Keep in mind that in some cases, strength training may be combined with cardio such as in circuit training, which focuses on body weight exercises. These drills get your heart rate up while toning and strengthening.

Celebrate every small achievement along the way. When you reach small milestones along the way toward your ultimate goal, take some time to celebrate and revel in that achievement. It’s easy to get bogged down when you’re so focused on the end result, but recognizing the progress you’re making will keep you motivated to continue moving forward.