Catch up on your 2017 resolution to exercise more

You don't need to wait until the new year to start making physical activity a part of your lifestyle.

At the beginning of 2017, like many people, you may have resolved increase the amount of physical activity you do. Now, it’s December and you haven’t started, or you started and stopped. But it is not too late! You do not need to wait until the start of a new year to begin making physical activity a part of your lifestyle. Starting now will help you refocus and make you feel better knowing you are ending the year on a high note. Try following the steps below to end the year the way you intended.

For beginners (or those starting again):

  • Get medical approval, if you haven’t done it yet. Make use of your Flex Spending Account (FSA).
  • Set aside time on your calendar for exercise dates with yourself, at least 2 ½ hours per week.
  • Start walking three times a day for 10 minutes each time, if you’re confined to a chair do chair exercises.
  • Initially, don’t increase your walking time. Instead, increase the speed of your walking.
  • Within two weeks find some other activities that you may like and add variation to your exercise routine.
  • It may help to start with a family member or a friend, set your goals and stick to it.
  • Unfamiliar with how to start, start slowly and check out some information from the National Institute on Aging.

Intermediate fitness:

  • Follow the steps for beginners outlined above. Then:
  • Within two weeks include some of your favorite physical activities.
  • Research some new activities, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while.
  • In addition to the free and in-home activities, investigate some free or low-cost community options.
  • Strive to get and exceed the fitness level you had before.
  • Recognize the factors that made you stop exercising in the past and take action to avoid those pitfalls.

Advance fitness:

  • Follow the steps for beginners outlined above. Then:
  • Within two weeks include some of your favorite physical activities.
  • Muscles have memory, capitalize on what your body already knows and improve.
  • Avoid the pitfalls that may discourage you from continuing on your exercise journey
  • Don’t pass the slow honeymoon stage of your new journey, moving too fast could lead to burnout.
  • Measure your goals based on your new fitness routine, not what you used to do.
  • Get into a fitness routine before adding new physical activity interests.
  • Check out Tyler Becker’s three-part series on evidence-based physical activity recommendations, see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Be realistic with yourself, expect small failures but keep trying. It is hard to start and even harder to start again and again. Remember, it is not that you never or stopped exercising that matters, it’s that you’ve started again. Don’t get beaten by the failure to stick by your New Year’s resolution, be proud and energized that you have accomplished what you planned for this year. It’s not a failure to catch up! Visit Michigan State University Extension for more information about making physical activity a regular part of your lifestyle.

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