This is the time of year when we turn our thoughts to New Year's Resolutions and our personal fitness. Often those goals are frustrated by injuries, distractions, or discouragement. Here are some ways to prevent that, and turn those resolutions into healthy habits!
1. Start slowly. If you haven't exercised regularly over the holidays, begin at 50% of the intensity of your last workout, then gradually increase your time or intensity with each workout.
If you are beginning a new fitness routine and are a mature adult >40 years old, an annual physical by your primary care physician is highly recommended. In addition, annual check-ups by your physical therapist are becoming common. Your PT can assess specific problems with range of motion, strength and balance and then give you recommendations to address those problems and prevent injuries.
Next, begin your exercise of choice at a low intensity, for only 10-15 minutes the first time. Seriously. You won't feel the effects of muscle soreness for 48 hours. Then, if you are only mildly sore and stiff, repeat that same intensity and add 5 minutes more. Gradually increase your time. When you have reached your desired exercise time per session, increase the intensity. This could mean increasing amount of weight, speed or incline. Just don't do all at once. If you do, you may find yourself back to square one with an injury and forced rest.
2. Get an accountability buddy. This means finding someone to check in with each week and report your efforts. It can also mean having someone exercise with you regularly at the gym, one a walk or even virtually. I have been "meeting" my sister via phone weekly on Saturday mornings while we exercise. Before the end of our call, we commit to certain small goals for the next week. Sometimes we have to miss a Saturday, but have been consistent for over 3 years now.
3. Include strength, cardio, flexibility and balance activities into your fitness program. Your body needs all four activities regularly for good physical health. Strength activities for your core muscles and limbs improve bone and muscle health. Cardio exercises such as walking or cycling improve your heart and lungs and your ability to burn fat. Increasing your flexibility through stretching programs such as yoga improves your ability to move during any activites and prevent injuries. Balance activities improve your coordination and prevent falls. Click here for a great one-page handout on these four areas.
4. Ask for help. There isn't one specific program that helps everyone. Each body is unique in build and experience! Each of us has had different sprains, strains, broken bones or surgeries. We have different interests and motivations. A physical therapist can help you design the best program for YOU and your specific needs. The ability to do the activities that you want, enjoy your relationships stay as independent as ever is what most people are looking for! Does that sound good to you? If so, call us at 208-237-2080 and we will be happy to talk to you about your fitness goals!