Health

Spring is a time of renewal and new beginnings as the warmth of the sun and the scent of warm weather is in the air. Perhaps your New Year’s resolutions are in need of some renewal?

Or, maybe you never got started in your exercise program despite your intentions. Either way, make the commitment to begin again this month.

If you have never started an exercise program, please consult your family physician before beginning. If you do feel able, try these suggestions:

1. It has been said that it takes 30 days of repetition of a behavior to instill that behavioral change. Set a goal and stick to it for 30 days. Mark this on your calendar.

2. Strive to never let two days pass without exercise. Jot your activity on your calendar or utilize the plethora of apps available for your smart phone, such as MapMyFitness, and many others.

3. Aim for activity six days of the week. A good rule to follow is: three days of cardio, two days of strength training, and one day of alternate activity.

What is cardio? Cardio exercise is the type which raises your heart rate, such as fast walking, running, using an elliptical trainer, biking or swimming. This is also known as aerobic exercise. During cardio exercise, you should be able to talk. If you are gasping for breath, slow it down!

Strength training can be accomplished through Pilates, yoga, gym weights or lifting weights at home. Not a “gym rat,” you say? There are videos, Pinterest suggestions, and even exercise TV to help you get started.

Your alternate activity should be something new or fun. Try Zumba, trail riding at the nearby Brunswick Nature Park biking trails, walking the Southport waterfront or the beach, or swimming at the Dinah E. Gore Fitness and Aquatic Center—anything to get you moving!

4. Get a workout buddy. Make sure this is someone who is as interested in health improvement as you want to be. You do not need a buddy who skips out on you or leads you to the local ice cream shop instead. I had the same workout buddy for about 10 years—at 6 a.m. There is no greater motivation than knowing if you do not show that they will be waiting for you and worried about you.

5. Proper equipment is key. If you are beginning a walking or jogging program, purchase athletic shoes which provide the right fit for your foot. Your athletic supply store can assist you with this.

6. Look for ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. You’ve heard it before, but here it is again: Take the stairs, park as far away as possible, jog to get the mail.

7. Set a short-term goal that is appropriate for you. This is your reward! Perhaps at three months you will run a 5k, or in six months you will buy new workout pants. Maybe you will sign up for a new exercise class after two weeks. Or maybe when you stick to it for 30 days, you can schedule yourself for a massage to pamper all those new muscles. Perhaps pick up that healthy living magazine at the store to reinforce your goals.

8. Above all, focus on the healthy you and not your weight! Weight loss is an added benefit but should not define your success or failure.

And remember what your mama told you, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Start again and enjoy spring in Southport!

Leslie has lived in Southport since 1990 with her husband and three children. She is employed at Dosher Memorial Hospital as a Registered Nurse, and she has an interest in fitness and health.

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