A few weeks into the new year, and the signs of broken resolutions can be seen as the gym floor becomes slowly less crowded.
“If you’re one of the folks who started the year with best intentions, (getting fit is a hard resolution,) know that reaching fitness goals for 2017 is still attainable,” experts say.
According to Lisa Washburn, associate professor-health, and Tellisha Brown, program technician-health for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, the phrase “getting fit” won’t mean the same thing for everyone.
Washburn said adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, with strength training at least twice a week. And despite news about the latest weight-loss plan, Washburn said the average person just needs to follow a sensible diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and high-quality protein.
Examine eating habits
“It’s often portion sizes that get us into trouble, so reducing portion sizes can aid weight loss,” she said. “Diets and diet products are marketed to make a profit, so consumers should carefully evaluate any claims made. Look for evaluations of diets or products from reliable, unbiased, non-commercial sources. Be sure to look for information on whether the diet falls short of any nutrient recommendations. The DASH diet and MyPlate recommendation are two sources of dietary advice consumers can rely on to be sound.”
Washburn also advises people to plan meals and snacks to prevent long periods of hunger.
“Keep healthy snacks on hand. Having a nutritious snack readily available decreases the chances of choosing a less healthy option. Drink plenty of water. Sometimes a craving can be mistaken for thirst. Stick to your fitness routine. This not only cuts down on your screen time, but it can also distance you from the craving by changing your thought and/or environment,” Washburn said.
When it comes to taking charge of one’s health, it doesn’t have to be costly or complicated. Diet trackers such as MyFitnessPal, Calorie Counter and Food Diary are available at the touch of your smart phone, while YouTube has numerous workout sessions to shake things up for free. No joining or cancellation fees required.
“You don’t need an expensive gym membership to get fit,” Washburn said. “Purchase some dumbbells to get fit at home. Try some new fitness DVDs or online videos. Get outside and use the playground with your kids. For example, some equipment can double as pull-up bars. You don’t need a treadmill to get up and move. The sidewalks in your neighborhood will do just fine.”
Tips for sticking to fitness regimen
• If the idea of developing a fitness routine seems overwhelming, have no fear. Washburn offers her tips for developing a routine you can stick to throughout the year.
• Determine your goals – “It’s important to know your motivation in order to choose an appropriate routine,” Washburn said.
• Find time – “Everyone is busy, but we all have the same 24 hours in a day,” she said. “We make time for the things that are important to us. Thirty minutes to an hour of exercise are needed on most days to meet recommendations. Exercise can be split into 10-minute intervals, making it easier to squeeze in bouts of activity.”
• Give yourself time to see progress – “Make sure your goals are realistic and work toward gradually improving your endurance, strength and flexibility,” Washburn said. “Track your progress to stay motivated.”
• Switch it up – “Alternating between activities keeps routines from becoming boring, helps target different muscle groups and decreases the risk of injury,” she said.
Details: www.uaex.edu or contact a county extension office.
— Lisa Lakey is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.