How to Exercise More in the New Year
Welcome back to our series on how to “ring in your healthiest year yet.” The CHI Health dietitian team is back to dive into another common resolution and give your practical advice about sticking to them.
In addition to the New Year’s resolutions related to dieting or eating healthier, there also seems to be a huge number of people who say, “I’m going to exercise more this year!” Have you ever been to the gym in the month of January? It is absolute madness! There are many newbies who are excited to start on their resolution and feel healthier.
…But then February rolls around. Now it doesn’t seem so packed any more. Where did everyone go? The problem is that most of the people who decide to start exercising on January 1st are usually a little worn down by February 1st. Consequently, once we enter the month of March, they might not even be showing up to the gym at all. Does this sound like an experience you or someone you know has had?
How to Beat “Gym Fatigue” and Stick to an Exercise Plan
Below are 5 tips for keeping up the New Year’s motivation for a healthier you:
Make your resolution realistic
Making a goal to work-out for 1 hour every single day for the rest of the year will present quite a challenge (life happens!). Instead, make a small goal such as exercising for 30 minutes at least 3 days a week. The nice thing about small goals is that you may find yourself going above and beyond what you had in mind – which is always a great feeling!
Build on your resolution
In addition to small goals being easy to follow (and more likely to stick), they also have potential for growth. Considering the example in #1, it wouldn’t be hard to build that resolution up to 30 minutes of exercise 4 days a week, 5 days a week, 45 minutes, and so on. After having success with each goal, you will likely have more motivation to continue challenging yourself.
It may sound cheesy, but sometimes you just need to acknowledge how awesome you are. Did you take the stairs today instead of the elevator? That’s amazing. You did not have to do that, but you did! Did you choose a parking spot farther away from the door then you normally would have? Look at you go! Did you accidentally walk 3 miles while shopping the mall? Well you are just a walking machine!! Get the point?
Allow yourself to fail
This goes hand in hand with encouraging yourself. Sometimes our bodies are just too tired to exercise, and that’s okay. Resting can be just as productive as active work, depending on what your body needs. It’s okay to skip the workout if you did not sleep much the night before. Exercising if you are fatigued or did not have enough to eat or drink can actually put you at risk for injury. This would be counterproductive towards your healthiest year yet.
Choose exercise that you can look forward to
Exercise doesn’t have to be going to the gym and running on a treadmill for 45 minutes. Nor does it have to be a strict weight lifting schedule. It can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you are moving and your heart rate is elevated. Here are some ideas for physical activity to try:
- Drop into a dance, yoga, boxing, or spin class.
- Take a walk around your building on your lunch break.
- Hike into nature on a day off (that is not only good for the body, but good for the soul as well).
- If you enjoy the traditional cardio and/or weight lifting equipment at the gym, do it!
How Long Should You Exercise
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get at least:
- 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or
- 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or
- an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
- Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
- They also provide recommendations for adolescents, older adults, and pregnancy
These guidelines can be broken up into different segments of physical activity throughout the day. Feel free to mix it up and find what works for you. Again, it’s about elevating your heart rate and moving. The more you enjoy it, the easier it’ll be to stick to your resolution. Good luck!
Read the week 3 post about choosing a diet plan.
Michelle Yates, RD, LMNT, is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health Lakeside Hospital, specializing in the Medical/Surgical unit & the Oncology unit. She doubles as a dance instructor as well as a master’s student for Health Psychology. Her passions are to help others break free from any negative ideas of food they carry, along with opening their eyes to the joys of “everything in moderation”.