With the best intentions, people jump into a vigorous training program—especially on January 1—only to lose interest quickly. This is usually because the exercise is too much like work or we do too much, too soon. New Year’s resolutions like that are hard to keep!
Try a more realistic re-resolution to make exercise part of your life. Like an eating plan, a fitness routine should be moderate enough to be sustainable over time. Start a regimen gradually to prevent injury and build confidence and consistency.
The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week. Three 10-minute cardio exercise segments are just as effective as activity for 30 continuous minutes. This makes it easier to increase how much time you exercise gradually. As you continue, add an additional 15 minutes three times a week of resistance exercises. Use weights, elastic bands or your body weight as resistance to strengthen muscles and bones.
A top fitness trend this year is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), according to an American College of Sports Medicine survey. HIIT alternates moderate activity with a burst of more intense exercise. For example, you would walk five minutes, then jog for one minute.
HIIT burns more calories than steady-state exercise; increases strength and endurance; and spices up a fitness routine with variety. Some anecdotal reports say that interval training can overcome a weight loss slump, though no scientific research proves that at the moment.
To try HIIT–particularly if you’re out of shape or have a chronic health condition–consult your doctor. With your physician’s permission, start slowly. This will reduce the chance of getting hurt from overuse or pushing too hard.
Go Out and Play
Whatever fitness re-resolution you choose, the best exercise is the kind you actually do. So make fitness fun. Children’s play time is for sheer pleasure. Adults can benefit by taking a page from the junior playbook:
- Combine bonding time with activity. Don’t just watch your children play outside—join them! Make pushing a swing or a game of soccer a great workout.
- Embrace amateur hour. Investigate local adult teams and classes and get involved with an activity that interests you. After all, kids try new things all the time.
- Make time to play several times a week. Wake up your inner child!
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