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Tips to Stick to those New Year’s Resolutions

new year's resolutions

By: Abbey Fecher, DPT

Three… two… one… HAPPY NEW YEAR! The first week of the New Year is a great time to press the reset button and set some goals for your overall health and well being. Have you set any resolutions? Whether they’re related to your fitness, nutrition or even your mental health, there are some things you should remember to help you stick to your goals.

One of the most important steps to remember is to set realistic goals! This goes or any category of resolution. When it comes to fitness-related resolutions, people often make the mistake of trying too much too soon, which is the easiest way to sustain an injury. If you’ve never run more than a couple miles, now is not the time to sign up for a marathon. Start with a few daily changes. Try going on an after-dinner walk or taking the stairs at work. The key to success is gradually increasing your actively levels.

You’ll be amazed at the results you get when you simply plan ahead and prioritize. We all have the best intentions to hit the gym after work but sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Too often we get home exhausted from the workday and before we know it, we are lounging on the couch, binge watching Netflix and never make it to the gym. Plan ahead instead. Pack your gym clothes and an extra snack and go to the gym before you go home. If your office building has a gym, make use of it during your lunch or even before the workday starts. All it takes is a little planning!

Exercise is defined as planned and structured physical activity with the purpose of training a specific part of the body. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week to help increase your overall heart and lung health. This breaks down to be about 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week.  If your goal is to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure, it is recommended you perform 40 minutes aerobic exercise (moderate or vigorous intensity) 3 to 4 times per week.

Moderate exercise is when you get your heart rate 50-60% above your resting heart rate. Some examples of moderate exercise are walking 2 miles in 30 minutes, biking 5 miles in 30 minutes, running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes, and dancing for 30 minutes. Moderate exercise should feel somewhat hard. You should notice an increase in breathing rate, develop a sweat after 10 minutes, and you should still be able to carry on a conversation, but you should not be able to sing.

Vigorous exercise is when you get your heart rate 70-80% above your resting heart rate. Some examples of vigorous exercise include running 1.5 miles in 9 minutes, biking 5 miles in 20 minutes, shoveling snow, or playing basketball. Vigorous exercise should feel tough. Your breathing should be deep and rapid and you should develop a sweat after a few minutes. You should only be able to say a few words at a time without pausing for a breath.

In addition to regular aerobic exercise, the American Heart Association also recommends moderate to high muscle strengthening activities 2 days per week. This could include using free weights, weight machines at the gym, or body weight strengthening such as pushups or planks.

Whenever you start a new exercise routine, regardless of your fitness level, you need to start slowly to avoid injury. If you do not already lead an active lifestyle, start with 10 to 15 minute bursts of exercise at a time. This way, you will not feel overly tired or stress your body too much. As your tolerance of exercise increases, you can work your way up to 30 minutes at a time and eventually go the recommended amount of activity per week. When you are starting a strength training program, you should start with 1 set of 15 repetitions of each exercise. Your muscles should feel tired after 15 repetitions. When you are able to perform 1 set without any muscle fatigue, you can increase to 2 sets, and then to 3 sets. After you can complete 3 sets of 15 without any significant muscle fatigue you can increase the weight and lower your repetitions back down to 1 set of 15. If you follow these guidelines you will be able to improve your strength and muscle endurance with minimal risk of injury.

At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, it’s our purpose to help you achieve your goals. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to start a regular exercise regimen or just want to speak with a physical therapist about how to prevent injuries, call our office at 703-450-4300.

CLICK HERE to get started on one of our 2018 fitness challenges: A 12-week Couch to 5K Program