As the New Year approaches, fitness resolutions are on many lists. After another year of physical neglect many people will promise themselves to get fit. This time they say it is for real! For their sake I wish them luck and I hope this is not yet another year for empty promises. As plans are set to fulfill this year's fitness resolutions, I would like to stress the importance of setting a realistic plan of attack.
I live in New Jersey and this past week my town was hit with 24 inches of snow. As I spent the day shoveling snow, I thought how great it is that I consistently exercise and that my body is prepared for tasks such as this. Every year many people suffer heart attacks while shoveling snow. This usually results from the fact that they have not exercised. Their bodies are de conditioned and they are simply not prepared for the effort required. Many people face a similar situation when they set their sights on fitness resolutions for the new year. Despite having not exercised for quite some time, they work out at a very strenuous pace in an effort to make up for the lost time. This is very dangerous and can have disastrous results!
Most people are out of shape or over weight because they have neglected their fitness routine for extended periods. It took more than one week to reach this physical condition and it will certainly take more than one week to reach your ultimate fitness goal. Please use sensibility and caution when returning to higher activity levels. When a realistic plan is set in motion there is a much greater chance of following it through to the end. Remember, the goal is to make changes that will improve your quality of life for the remainder of it. This is certainly a situation where slow and steady wins the race. Please follow my safety tips listed below when beginning your quest to be fit this year.
1) Start slowly
Consider walking or riding a bicycle at a comfortable pace for your first workout. It doesn't matter how long or short that walk or ride is. The trick is to progress steadily from this starting point. Progression may come in the form of adding one minute to each exercise session or trying to cover more distance in the same amount of time.
2) Seek professional advice
There are many knowledgable personal trainers who can assist you in setting a plan that will be most successful. Please be certain to check your trainer's background. Personal trainers are available who possess a bachelor's degree in a fitness related field. If your gym does not have degreed personal trainers on staff, be sure that the trainer you are working with is certified by a reputable association before meeting with him or her.
3) Use a heart rate monitor
The heart rate monitor is one of the most important fitness safety tools. This device will tell you if you are working hard enough. More importantly, it tells you if you are working too hard.
4) Set a realistic plan
It is very important to set a plan that takes into account your current fitness level and evolves as you progress. Starting out too hard is very dangerous and failing to steadily progress will stall efforts at improvement.
5) Be honest with yourself with the commitment you can make
It is very important to design a fitness plan that fits into your lifestyle. Many people make the mistake of promising that they will workout everyday. When they miss a day, they feel as if they have failed and they quit. The truth is that progress can be made when exercising as little as two times per week. If you can only exercise two times per week, make that promise to yourself. Anything more is a plus.
6) Be vigilant
Consistency is the key to winning the battle for long term fitness. This is why it is important to make an honest assessment of what will fit into your lifestyle. Design your routine around that, and stick to it.
7) Seek support
Encourage a friend or loved one to exercise with you. This will provide motivation for you as well as the other person. It is hard to let down someone you care for. When fitness is important to both people the commitment is even stronger. It is also important to remember that safety comes in numbers.
8) Have fun
The best fitness routines are those that you enjoy. You are more likely to stick to a program that includes activities that you enjoy. You will also be more focused on the task at hand and less likely to suffer an injury.
If you follow these 10 tips you will give yourself the best chance at reaching your fitness goals and improving your life forever.
Good Luck! Make this the year that you reach your physical potential.