Is improving your physical fitness level part of your 2018 New Year's Resolution? January is already halfway over, how are you doing?
Patients often tell me they have difficulty sticking with physical activity for a variety of reasons. I notice a few common patterns in these challenges.
One very common challenge is picking an activity that you do not enjoy because “I should be” doing it. Running, strength training are the most common two that I hear patients mention in this situation. It is ideal to do a variety of activities so that you build cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and flexibility. However, DO NOT pick an exercise you are not willing to stick with long term simply because it matches your ideal. If you don’t like to run, then don’t! Any physical activity that you will actually do on a regular basis is beneficial for you in the long term. You may have heard the aphorism “Perfect is the enemy of good enough”- it is often true in this situation. Don’t hold back from starting now with an activity that you enjoy simply because you think you should be doing something else.
This is a perfect opportunity to try new activities and see what you enjoy. You may find that you prefer to be consistent with just one activity, such as a daily walk. You may find that you are easily bored and prefer rotation of activities to enjoy. Even if you haven't enjoyed a form of activity in the past, it's worth trying it again to see if you have changed. If you are considering an activity that requires equipment like indoor rock climbing or cross-country skiing, try it out first with rental equipment. If you want to try a fitness studio, take advantage of lower-cost introductory packages or ask a friend who already attends if they can get you a free class. There are a wealth of online services with instructional videos or classes you can use online from your TV or computer. There are also adult "casual" sports leagues available for team sports that you can join.
Some suggestions to try: walking, hiking/trail running, jogging, weight lifting, yoga, pilates, kickboxing, group classes, cross-fit, indoor rock climbing or bouldering, cycling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, zumba, dancing, golf (if you walk the course!), tennis, parquet, soccer, basketball and softball. Here in the NW you may prefer an indoor activity in the rainy seasons, but outdoor exercise is an option year-round with appropriate clothing and footwear.
Here's an example high-level fitness plan, my own: I started out with hiking and walking 4 miles twice a week and three hours of yoga at a studio per week. Now, years later, I try to walk, hike, snowshoe or trail run 28 miles per week, practice yoga at a studio 2 hours per week and 1.5 hours of gym rock climbing two times a week. I find it helpful to keep track of my exercise. I use the MovesCount website, FitBit also has a similar site and there are other options.
Come in to the office if you would like help developing a fitness plan for 2018 and beyond.
On my next blog I will address another significant issue- finding the TIME to be active.
Do you prefer to exercise alone or in a group