Why wait until January to make resolutions? Use those late-summer, post-vacation feelings of renewal to make healthy lifestyle changes, starting with getting adequate exercise. Fitness is often the number one New Year’s resolution, and for good reason! Exercise plays a role in the prevention of many conditions: It can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, reduce rates of depression, help prevent diabetes, and help slow the aging process. Getting adequate exercise means 2.5 hours per week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity, plus muscle-strengthening exercises two or more days per week. If you don’t already exercise regularly, getting started may feel daunting. Luckily, simple tricks can help you get motivated. If you choose something that you already love to do, like riding a bike or walking the dog, you may be more likely to stick with it. Another trick is to move more in your everyday life. You can do this by walking or biking instead of driving, or burn calories instead of electricity by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Small changes can add up, and over time you may come to find that your default choices are healthier ones. Putting some strategies in place can help, too:
Be specific: Instead of vowing to “exercise more,” determine exactly how much you’ll exercise — for example, three 50 minutes sessions per week.
Put it on your calendar: Prevent the “I don’t have time” excuse by scheduling your exercise just like you do meetings and social engagements, that way you can hold yourself accountable.
Set realistic goals: Instead of setting lofty goals that may set you up for failure, start small, and set new goals as you increase your fitness.
Have a back-up plan: Know that you might miss a scheduled workout and have a plan for how to make up for it. For example, if you miss your Saturday morning spin class, plan to go for a fast walk for 30 minutes.