For many people, each New Year begins with a long list of resolutions. Topping the list of resolutions that are frequently made, and broken, are those to lose weight and exercise more, during the upcoming year.
Resolutions of themselves are not a terrible thing, but often, they are too vague and unrealistic, and so are doomed to failure from the beginning. Older adults are the least likely to make New Year’s resolutions, but it is estimated nearly half of all adults make them.
However, I want to challenge you this year, not to make a resolution, but to commit to take some positive steps towards better health.
By far the most popular resolution is to lose weight. While this is a good resolution, the reason behind why you’re doing it often affects your success. Wanting to lose weight because you want to get healthier is a great motive, but wanting to because you’ll be seeing an old high school friend or trying to fit into a tight-fitting dress for an event are not. Instead you’re more likely to succeed if you think in terms of all the positive ways in which your health will be affected if you lose weight not with another fad diet, but by cutting back on the high calorie, low nutrient items, and adding foods that will boost energy and your nutrition.
If your goal is to begin an exercise program or to be more consistent, then you should set a goal as to how many days per week you plan to exercise and the length of time you will exercise. Prioritize your exercise time by putting it on your agenda as you would any other appointment. Be realistic about the level that you’re at and start slowly. Doing too much too soon can lead to an injury and this would only set you back on your fitness journey. If you plan to attend a group exercise class arrive early and speak to the instructor as to whether the class is at your level. Many classes are designed for people of different fitness levels so this will ensure that you’re in the appropriate one.
The Surgeon General recommends that all adults, including seniors, get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. This includes activities such as brisk walking, using the treadmill, swimming, and cycling indoors or outdoors. This type of exercise brings much needed oxygen to your heart and lungs. Another important benefit is that it increases blood flow to the brain, which enhances memory and cognition.
If you invest in your health by eating a healthy diet and making time for regular exercise you will reap dividends in later years. Remember that Exercise is Good Medicine® for the body, but for mind and spirit.
I hope that you have a healthy and happy 2018.
Oris Martin is the Fitness Director at Edgewater at Boca Pointe, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Boca Raton, Florida. This column appeared in the January 2018 edition of the Viewpointe at Boca Pointe.