January Exercise of the Month: Make Movement Your New Year’s Resolution
Kayla Thompson, MS, ACSM-EP
In our culture, January presents endless possibilities. A new year with a new chance to do better, try something new or start fresh. The new year is a time when we might reassess our positioning in life. Some people make goals and review the previous year’s goals. Some folks like the idea of starting new things, but never do anything. Some people don’t care at all and continue in their day-to-day stuff. Wherever you fall, I want you to know it’s okay. I spent most of my life as someone who liked the idea of goals, but didn’t set any.
Goals don’t have to only be decided on and started in January. That being said, if you are ready to start now, give yourself a high-five. A lot of goals in January seem to be centered around body image. I want to lose “x” amount of weight or I want to start exercising. Both of those are great! However, fitness culture has led you to believe that it should take “30 days or less.” This is wrong. If you want to lose 100 pounds and someone tells you they can make it happen in three weeks, walk away very quickly from them. Johns Hopkins states, “Losing no more that one-half to two pounds per week is recommended.” Losing weight and improving fitness is not a quick fix. If you want to be healthy, it will take time. This may be frustrating, but your body will thank you for doing it the right way the first time.
What does starting exercise in a doable way look like? It is just starting. Making daily decisions and efforts to be active. That means deciding to park at the back of the parking lot and walking into the grocery store. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Going for a walk before dinner rather than watching television. It also looks like being patient and gracious with yourself. You aren’t always going to feel like being active. Be active anyway. If you miss a workout because you slept in, it’s okay. Choose to do some form of activity later in the day, even if it was not your original plan. Take a walk on your lunch break instead of watching a YouTube video at your desk.
The American College of Sports Medicine states that you should obtain 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week and two or more days of resistance training and flexibility training per week. Aerobic training refers to cardiorespiratory fitness training. Examples of aerobic training could be running, walking, or bicycling. Resistance training refers to muscle strengthening in the form of bodyweight or weighted exercises such as squats, pushups, or bench press. Flexibility training is exactly what you think it is. Limber up and stretch! Basically, strive to get some form of activity in most days of the week. If you are brand new, try to start with two to three days a week of 30 minutes of specific training and mix in simple activities like walking for 30 minutes on your off days.
As you ponder what direction you want to take this year, I want to challenge you about how you are setting goals. It’s important to be realistic. Set short-term and long-term goals. An example of this would be I want to lose 75 pounds. That is your long-term goal. A short-term goal would be to lose three to four pounds in the next month. You would then want to plan out how you are going to make that short-term goal happen. Maybe you want to start being active and try meal prepping every week. If you want to accomplish your goal, you have to plan well. If that seems overwhelming or confusing, ask someone for help. I will provide my email below, please reach out to me. Changing your life is a group project. You need support.
Listen to your body and increase or decrease as you need to. It is okay to be kind to yourself and ease into things. Many folks start off too hard with exercise and grow to hate it due to how sore they are. Let me be the first to tell you this: you will be sore and tired. Embrace the soreness.
Below is an example of a total body routine with some aerobic work thrown in the mix.
Warm up for 10 minutes with a fast-paced walk or light jog
Complete two to three sets of the following:
- 8-12 pushups (modify as needed)
- 15-20 seconds of high knees
- 10-15 walking lunges
- 15-20 seconds of scissor kicks
- 8-12 dips (use a stable structure, can be a chair)
- 10-15 burpees
- 15-20 second plank
- 10-15 bodyweight squats
After the two sets, complete a 10-minute fast-paced walk or jog
Cool down with some light, total body stretching
Starting can be the hardest part. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and remember to be kind to yourself. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kayla Thompson is a diabetes care navigator at the HopeHealth Medical Plaza in Florence and a certified exercise physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. She has a Master of Science in clinical exercise science.