January 3, 2019

By : Katie Swanson, PT, DPT

Come January, many of us resolve to exercise more frequently.  We often start with good intentions, but we don’t always succeed in making exercise part of our regular routine. If exercising is your New Year’s resolution, you can set yourself up for success by following these recommendations.

Writing down goals will provide you with feedback on your progress.  Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and have a time frame.  When you achieve a goal, reward yourself with new exercise apparel or equipment.

Start with short durations of exercise when beginning a new exercise program. A walking program is a good way to begin exercising as it does not require special equipment. Walking five to ten minutes a day, and gradually increasing your time, will reduce the risk of injury.

When you begin an exercise program, some soreness is expected. However, if you are experiencing pain, you should alter your dosage of exercise and allow for more rest.

If you are returning to exercise after missing a regular routine due to the holidays or an illness, take activity slow. Reducing the duration or the weight used during exercise will allow for gradual return to activity. It is important to gradually return to activity to reduce the likelihood of an injury. Rest days are an important part of an exercise routine to allow the body to recover.

Exercise with a friend so you can hold each other accountable. If that is not convenient, check in with your friend via a quick text or join an exercise group on social media. You’ll have more fun and receiving encouragement from others will keep you motivated!  

Exercising at the same time every day can improve your consistency. As a general rule, it takes 28 days to develop a habit.  If you do not have as much time on some days, doing short durations of exercise can be just as beneficial.

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine will also help to increase your activity levels.  You could park farther away from the front door of a store, walk during your lunch hour, and stand up during commercial breaks while watching television to increase your daily activity. Doing a little bit every day is great start!

Try different activities as this will reduce your risk for injury. Try bowling, walking, biking, swimming, water aerobics, dancing, or fitness classes. Trying a variety of activities will help you find a combination you really like and enjoy. If you enjoy what you are doing for exercise, you will be more likely to stay consistent. 

Remember, exercise does not need to be an hour-long sweat session to provide health benefits.

Photo by Daniel Reche from Pexels