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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!

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