January 11, 2022
The new year is a common time to set goals for improving yourself both physically and mentally. However, it is important to develop a program for physical fitness that can be maintained, is realistic, safe, and will keep you out of the doctor's office. Dr. Jeremy Alland, a sports medicine physician, and Dave Heidloff, Manager of Sports Performance, offer tips for achieving your goals.
1. Aim for sustainability
Whether your goals revolve around diet, exercise, or mental health, design a plan with the long haul in mind. "Many people will start plans that promise quick results, but ultimately find them difficult to maintain or not enjoyable," explains Dr. Jeremy Alland. "The best way to make real gains is to make lifestyle changes that you can reliably continue indefinitely."
2. Curb your enthusiasm
The new year is always met with a surge in wellness goals, especially exercise. "We love to see people increase their activity, but remember that it is easy to do too much, too fast, and end up injured," says Dr. Alland. He recommends taking it slow and gradually increasing your activity over a few months. As a general rule, try to not repeat the same workout on back-to-back days to allow for your muscles to recover and adapt.
3. Don't forget your mental health
Weight loss and exercise usually dominate the resolution lists, but now more than ever is a great time to get your mental health in check. Taking 10 minutes a day for meditation, blocking off periods of the day to disconnect from technology, and making sure you are prioritizing work-life balance are all important ways to stay healthy. Recent studies have confirmed that stress and anxiety lead to early cardiac and other health issues. Dedicate this year to getting your mind and body in the best shape possible.
4. Incorporate strength training
Nearly every fitness goal benefits from improving strength. Building muscle will improve your metabolism, reduce injury risk, and make everyday tasks much easier. There isn't much of a reason to worry about becoming bulky or losing mobility as long as you train intelligently.
5. Work with a running expert
"The most popular New Year's resolution is weight loss, which means a lot of people jump on treadmills at their local gym or start to run outdoors," says Dave Heidloff. Running is a skill and improper technique can lead to injury or stagnant progress — both of which are incredibly frustrating. If you can find a running expert (schedule here) or group to help get you started, you'll be able to avoid many of the common pitfalls, increasing your chances of success.
6. See weaknesses as opportunities
Participating in exercises or activities we find challenging can reap incredible rewards. We often gravitate towards familiar or easy exercises. "The truth is that incorporating a training stimulus through novel exercise will give you faster progress rather than sticking with the same training you've been doing in the past," explains Heidloff. "This improved versatility will make you a better functioning human with reduced injury risk."