Ready to put some solid effort into turning your resolution into reality? Commit to making 2013 your healthiest year yet, and get started on the right track with these tips from FMH Clinical Exercise Specialist Jessica Mathews:
- See your doctor. Especially if you haven’t been active in a long time or haven’t had a checkup recently, this is a key first step. Talk to your doctor about your plans and take his or her advice to heart. Exercise is a great way to improve your health, but you need to select the right routines for your fitness level.
- Identify your goals and preferences. Setting goals can help motivate you and help you decide what type of exercise to do. Remember to select an activity you enjoy – it’ll be easier to stick to your plan if you don’t dread it!
- Put it on paper. A written plan may encourage you to stay on track. It can also help you visually see your progress.
- Find an exercise buddy, class, or group. It’s motivating when someone else is depending on you to show up. It can also make your exercise more enjoyable by adding a social aspect.
- Build activity into your daily routine. Walk as much and as often as you can. Make your office inefficient. Place your trash can far away from your desk so you have to get up and walk to it. Try converting your work station to a standing desk. Stand while you are on the phone. Little things can make a big difference.
- Start with mini-workouts. Ideally, we all need to meet the recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity every week. That said, short bouts of exercise for 10 minutes several times a day can still deliver health benefits.
- Challenge yourself… slowly. Short bursts of higher intensity exercise during your workout can help improve cardiovascular health in a shorter time. However, don’t feel pressured to go too fast too soon. If you aren’t able to say a few words out loud you’re working too hard.
- Add strength training. Do your strength training 2-3 days per week on non-consecutive days. Complete at least 1 set of 8-12 repetitions for each major muscle group. You don’t need to buy dumbbells. Get creative with soup cans, a one-gallon milk container, resistance bands and your own body weight.
- Set up a non-food reward system. Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal. Treat yourself to a movie, a massage, a pedicure, or whatever feels good.
- Allow time to recover. When most people begin an exercise program they tend to do too much too soon, increasing their chance of an injury. Plan time between exercise sessions for your body to rest and recover.
- Make exercise a priority. Schedule your exercise the way you would any other appointment. Write it on your calendar so other things don’t get in the way.
If you have concerns about starting your journey to a healthier 2013 — maybe you’ve never set foot in a gym and you’re worried you’d be lost in the sea of machines and gym rats – Jessica and the rest of the degreed exercise physiologists and registered nurses at FMH Medical Fitness can help. Whether you’re looking for a little instruction to make sure you’re using the equipment properly or you have a health condition that needs to be monitored during your workout, Medical Fitness can create the right program to meet your needs. Give them a call at 301-620-1250 to learn more.