by Rachel Miller, PT, DPT
Happy New Year! Every January is an opportunity to start with a clean slate. It is a time of New Years resolutions and the perfect time to set goals for the year ahead. I’m sure 2020 started out the same way but the year didn’t go quite as planned for most of us. One challenge was figuring out how to stay active and keep exercising despite not being able to go to the gym. The good news is the pandemic has opened up more options- virtual live classes, online on demand class libraries, and virtual personal training. These options are not only offered by large national fitness companies, but also many small, local gyms and studios. These small boutique studios not only have instructors that you may already know and love, but they also really need your support. While you have more options now, you need to find what works for you. Make your workout plan pandemic proof!
When designing a fitness plan here are some helpful tips:
What type of exercise or physical activity do you like to do?
Finding something you enjoy will help increase your chance of actually doing it- and sticking with it. Start there.
Make your workout a priority and put it on your schedule. Other ways to stay accountable are signing up for a LIVE virtual class so you are expected to show up at a certain day/time. Recruit a workout buddy- plan virtual workouts together or get outside for a socially distanced walk or run. One of the best ways to stay accountable is scheduling regular private workout sessions (yes, even virtual sessions can have amazing results).
We are often more likely to do what we like. For example, if you grew up running and love to run, it may be easy for you to consistently run a few times a week. I challenge you to do what you don’t like to do. Current guidelines recommend adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week- or a combination of both. Strength training twice a week is also recommended. Not surprisingly, more exercise will provide greater health benefits. You should have a combination of cardio, strength, and mobility/flexibility in your exercise routine.
What does your body need?
What is hard for us is what we likely need to work on consistently. If cardio is not your favorite, a heart rate monitor can be helpful to make sure that you are pushing yourself enough. If you sit all day for work, feel tight and not very flexible, you may benefit from regular mobility/flexibility work (like yoga or pilates). Depending on your medical history or current injuries, you may have some limitations that affect your ability to exercise. If you need help figuring out what works for you, starting with a Physical Therapist or personal trainer may be beneficial.
Make a plan.
You can always change it up, but exercising consistently is important. If you miss a week or two, give yourself some grace and restart as soon as you can. Remember, what you eat is also very important. A combination of healthy eating and exercise can make a big impact.
Regular exercise will make you physically stronger, can reduce anxiety and depression, aid in weight management, lower blood pressure, improve heart health, sleep quality and more. I wish you a happy, healthy and strong 2021!
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