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Health Watch

Don’t Let Your New Year’s Resolution Hurt You

It’s a new year, and with each new year lots of people make resolutions. According to a survey by offers.com, the top New Year’s resolution is to exercise more/lose weight. And it has been for three years in a row now.

If you are one of those people whose resolution for the new year is to exercise more, we offer a word of caution: ease into it. For several reasons.

First off, if you go too gung-ho into something, especially something new, you could put yourself on a short path to burnout. Figure out how to fit your New Year’s resolution into your life, and not the other way around. You will find more success if you make gradual changes, rather than throwing yourself into a new exercise regimen at top speed.

Instead, especially if you are currently quite sedentary, make incremental changes. If you haven’t worked out in a while, planning to go for a long run every day of January or going all-out at the nearest Orange Theory workout studio is not a good idea. It is best for both your body and your long-term workout goals if you ease into it, starting maybe without even a gym membership or a plan to train for a marathon and instead with a slight increase in your current level of physical activity. Think of it this way: the best way to physically prepare for a workout is to warm up. The same applies to your commitment to your New Year’s resolution – warm up to your ideal level of exercise.

Throwing yourself into a workout routine – or even just one workout – could leave you very sore or worse, injured. Harvard Medical School addressed how to ease into your resolution last year. If your resolution is to exercise more, consider the entire year as the time you have to get to your optimum level of physical activity. Harvard Medical School’s Marcelo Campos, MD, says if you start walking at a fast pace for 20 minutes per week, divided into two sessions of 10 minutes each, and your goal is to get to the standard recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, you want to gradually increase your weekly walking times.

If, indeed, your goal is to go from 20 minutes of fast-paced walking a week to 150 minutes a week by the end of the year, you will want to increase the number of minutes walked by about 5 minutes a week every week. A weekly 5-minute incremental increase seems like nothing, but it is far more achievable than trying to exercise for 150 minutes starting the first week of January and expecting to maintain that level of activity through the entire year if you have not been physically active at all up until now.

Gradually increasing the amount of time you exercise will help both your brain and your body get used to your resolution to exercise more. You will be far less likely to over-train and injure yourself. If, despite all your best intentions you do become injured, come into Watson Imaging Center as soon after you injure yourself as you can so we can help you get back to exercising as quickly as possible.

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