Revelations on the Revolution of Resolutions
Well, here we are – another brand-new year – a clean slate ready to be filled with the
greatest of intentions to accomplish great feats of health and well-being. It’s no wonder that
starting an exercise routine tops the list of New Year’s resolutions because if you really want to
feel better and get healthy, exercise is the key, right? Right – so how come those full gyms and
buzzing treadmills we see in January turn into ghost towns of inactivity just after Ground Hog Day? Every year we go through this revolving door of taking on an exercise program only to be frustrated by our own lack of resolve. Is there a way to keep this very beneficial routine of exercise going all year round?
There is little argument about the benefits of regular exercise – especially if you have
any kind of heart disease. A regular routine of moderate exercise – just 30 minutes of walking 3
to 5 days per week – can make a huge impact on your cardiovascular health. Not only does it
strengthen heart muscle but improves oxygen flow and circulation to the entire body. Besides
that, it has been scientifically proven, that regular, purposeful activity such as walking can
lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, reduce the ravages of stress, help you lose weight,
improve strength and endurance, and overall, give you more energy so you just feel great!
If that’s all true, then why do we keep failing to maintain a resolution that is obviously
so good for us? Perhaps we make it too difficult – setting the bar so high that we could never
possibly meet our own expectation. When it comes to planning an exercise program (and it
does take planning), we need to be realistic so we can make this a life-long habit rather than a
frenzied, idealistic activity that can never be sustained.
If you haven’t exercised for a while – a long while – you’re going to have to start off slow
and build up gradually. If you’re a little older you have to realize that when it comes to muscle
tone, you lose it quickly and it takes a long time to get it back, so you need to be patient with
yourself. You may feel a little winded or short of breath in the beginning but don’t give up –
you’re just out of shape, after a couple of weeks this should improve. Keep your pace slow –
your breathing rate will increase but you should be able to carry on a conversation while you
are exercising. (If there is any question, check with your doctor to be sure you’re healthy
enough for exercise.) The key, however, is to start and then stick with it.
A little planning and a few tricks will help you keep your exercise resolution this year.
Set an achievable goal to walk 10 minutes 2 to 3 days a week but let yourself be a little flexible
at first until you can figure out what routine will work best for you. If you are too strict you will
quickly resent the practice and you won’t do it at all (thus the empty gyms). Work the exercise
into your current routines by trying different times of day and see how they work for you. Be
sure to account for inclement weather in your plan. If you enjoy walking in your neighborhood
make a plan to walk at the mall or Home Depot when it rains. Once you find a routine that you
feel good about, commit to keeping it for at least 2 months with a plan to gradually increase
you’re time to a comfortable 20 to 30 minutes 3 to 5 days a week.
You may need a reminder at first so keep those workout clothes out where you can see
them, clear off that treadmill so you can get right on it. In other words, remove every obstacle
in the way of keeping that commitment. Make a plan to exercise with a friend or family
member and then do something fun afterward as a reward. Start walking that dog instead of
just opening the back door. Joining a gym can be a good way to move your exercise routine
away from the house and the distractions that inevitably come when you’re at home. Most
gyms have attractive specials this time of year and we all know about that one that offers very
low monthly rates all the time. Your local community or senior center may offer exercise
programs that appeal to you. How about a swim club or ice skating? Try different things to
find out what feels good and is fun for you.
The hardest part of any new activity that’s good for you is sticking with it but you will
never realize the benefits unless you do. Promise yourself you will keep exercising. On days
you don’t feel like it, tell yourself you will exercise for just 10 minutes and if you still don’t feel
like it after that you can stop. More than likely you will begin to feel better and you will be glad
you made that commitment. Eventually you will feel so good you will want to exercise every
Even though that exercise resolution has been a revolving door of failure in the past,
don’t give up – with a little encouragement, planning, and realistic expectations, you can enjoy
all the benefits of a regular routine of exercise all year long for life!