The New Year is just around the corner and to many that means it’s time for a fresh start. It means saying goodbye to the year 2020 – which many won’t miss – and saying hello to a New Year with new opportunities to better his or herself with a New Year’s Resolution.
So, what is a New Year’s Resolution exactly? It’s a common tradition practiced around the beginning of each year where people try to change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal or improve their life. And a huge New Year’s Resolution in many people’s minds is improving their health. Whether it’s shedding unwanted pounds, strengthening muscles or just trying to keep in good shape, working out and staying healthy is a big resolution for many.
Due to the pandemic, this past year has been a particularly difficult year for people to keep up with their health. When the shutdown happened last March, gyms and places to workout were part of the non-essential businesses that had to close their doors for a period of time. And while some gyms and workout centers have reopened at half-capacity or less, many had to shut their doors permanently. Many people lost gym memberships and were forced to find other creative outlets of working out. So, when the big shutdown happened, did you sit around and eat snacks all day or find creative ways to stay healthy at home?
While it’s easy to just “Netflix and chill” during quarantine, it’s vitally important to stay motivated to get up, exercise and keep your health in check. As a general rule of thumb, before starting a workout program you should try to figure out what you are trying to improve. By figuring this out first, you choose a strategy that works best for you.
According to health advocates from American Society for Nutrition, whether you’re young or old, there are some techniques out there that you can try at home. And while trying these workout routines, you can see which ones you need more work on, which ones you excel at, etc.
In order to have a well-rounded balance of healthy exercise, focus on the following tips:
- Muscle strength: This type of workout uses forceful muscle movement against some form of resistance. Whether that resistance comes from external objects or your own weight, using it can help your core muscles.
- Cardio and endurance: Practicing cardio and working on your endurance is a great way to get your heart and lungs pumping oxygen throughout your body and improving muscular movement.
- Staying balanced and flexible: On top of keeping your muscles strengthened and your heart healthy, it’s also good to keep your body balanced to stay in control of your body’s movement, as well as making sure you stay flexible and allowing your body to have full active and passive range of motion.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people stay as active as possible throughout the pandemic because it is very easy to become sedentary. And physical activity can come in many different shapes or forms. It can be sports participation, cycling or walking, as well as playing, dancing, gardening and even cleaning the house. But taking a short break from sitting, even if it’s only 3-5 minutes here and there, can help ease muscle strain and keep your blood circulation moving.
While any physical activity is better than zero, WHO recommends that adults that are 18 years and over should do a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, and possibly more depending on your health status. During the pandemic, you might feel like your workout sessions are limited or restricted due to social distancing or quarantine, but that’s not the case. Try thinking outside the box – or in this case outside the gym – to get the exercise you need at home. Here are a couple tips to get your health journey started:
- Walking, running or riding a bicycle outside: It’s always nice to get some fresh air by riding a bike or walking around the neighborhood; always practice physical distancing and wash your hands with water and soap before you leave, when you get to where you are going, as well as when you get home. This applies also if you decide to go to a park or public open space to get some physical activity.
- Start slow and build up: If you aren’t already exercising on a regular basis, you start out slow and build up to more intense, high-energy workouts. Start out with low-impact exercises such as walking, and start with shorter amounts of time such as 5-10 minutes; gradually build up to 30 minutes or more over a few weeks.
- Choose the right activity for yourself: Be true to yourself when considering the type of workouts you can do; think about your health status and fitness level. You should be able to breathe comfortably and hold a conversation while you do light- and moderate-intensity physical activity.
- Set up a regular routine to be active: Although it’s easy to fall into a slump when working from home, planning a physical activity or exercise break can be a great way to ensure you get your daily dose of health and wellness.
Although working out in a gym can be preferable to some, it isn’t always available during times like now. Instead of waiting for your local gym to re-open, try jumping on a bicycle at home or tending to the plants in your front yard. Any type of physical movement is an added bonus.
If you are one of the millions of people who ended up working from home due to the pandemic, you might understand how easy it is to fall victim to being lazy and sitting around the house all day. But by taking short 3-5 minute breaks every 20-30 minutes, you can improve your health. And by improving your physical health, you are also improving your mental health.
It’s also important to remember that during this time, you are not alone. Try joining an online physical class or maybe hold your best friend accountable to their workout via FaceTime. By connecting with others virtually, not only are you giving yourself more motivation to get your physical activity in for the day, you are also able to get some social time with friends and family. You can also try making your workout sessions more enjoyable by turning up the music and having some fun.
Even though many are counting down the days to a new year to start your resolution, why not try starting it today? Hold yourself accountable, set your goals you want to accomplish and watch yourself grow as a person. Record your progress on a weekly activity chart and watch yourself hit milestones. You can also give yourself a reward after reaching a personal goal, such as a little ice cream bar or ordering take-out from your favorite restaurant. Although it can be difficult during these times to be more motivated than usual, don’t let it stop you from bettering yourself as a person. With the new year starting, you can take it as a fresh start or a clean slate to try a New Year’s Resolution.