Is your New year’s resolution to “workout” more this year? Being active is a necessary part of living a happy and healthy life. We weren’t made to sit in chairs all day long at work only to drive home and then sit again, but many of us find ourselves doing just that. The US Department of Health recommends a set amount of exercise to adults in order to maintain general health. In order to achieve that 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of strenuous activity if that’s your thing) you are going to have to make a commitment to a regime of activity. The mere thought of starting a new workout routine or regular exercise activity can overwhelm many of us. With that in mind, we gotta do it, so we might as well pick activities that are varied and interesting in order to avoid mental fatigue and increase results.
If you have never been the type of person who liked to stay regularly active, or haven’t been active in a while, I recommend that you start with an easy and low cost option. Running out and buying an expensive gym membership or sports equipment with no plan on how to use it is not a recipe for success. Most likely, you’ll only end up shuffling that equipement around before you finally put it up on Craigslist. Instead, select an approachable workout – like a walk on the Coastal Trail . Some people are hesitant to begin a new activity because they are afraid that they might exacerbate a chronic condition or cause a new injury to occur. They might also have some shame getting a workout around other people because of their level of ability. If you are having those reservations, feel free to make an appointment with one of our providers for an assessment on your ability and to recommend some options that would work for you.
For me, I recommend a selection of “fun” and “serious” workouts in order to hit specific health goals and to maintain interest in being active. In the Summer I like to hike, bike, weight train, and run. In the Winter, I play hockey, weight train, x-country ski, and fat tire bike. The key is to be active every day if possible, with scheduled formal activities (like going to a gym) and informal fun activities such as a pickup hockey game or bike through the woods. No matter what my mood is, I have a fall back activity that I can do if I just don’t feel like doing a certain activity that day. This can be empowering as our day-to-day attitude, health (are you still sore from leg day?), and situation can fluctuate and make some activities more appealing on that day than others. It gives you the freedom to choose your activity to meet your health needs and it won’t feel like pulling teeth to get it done.
It doesn’t matter what you decide to do when you decide to be active – just ensure that it is fun and you are safe. There is inherent risk in anything we do (and much risk in doing nothing!) but if you are following generally recommended best practices, you are most likely to stave off the major pitfalls that can occur. A healthcare professional should be consulted before any new workout, activity or program is initiated. Joining local meet-up groups and Facebook groups is a good way of getting the inside scoop on gear, trails, activities, and best practices. Nobody wants an injury or boredom to derail their plans to have a good time and improve their health. Lean on your doctors and the the community, and I promise that it will only enhance your experience.
Living a healthy lifestyle takes commitment but I promise that it reaps great rewards. Every single person on this planet can benefit from an assessment of their activity levels on an annual basis. I urge you to take 10 minutes today to think about your current activity levels and workouts and then compare them to the Us Department of Health recommendations. With that, you can develop a plan to ensure that you are staying regularly active. If you have any reservations or pre-existing health conditions that concern you, please see your doctor or visit one of our providers. Above all, be safe, be healthy, and be happy!