Exercising in the New Year

Do you have a gym membership that has been sitting idle? You have good intentions of going but haven’t darkened the door in more than a year or two? You aren’t alone. Many people lose their motivation to exercise because they set unrealistic expectations.

Now, as a new year gets underway is the time to do something about it. Much like you declutter your house, declutter your exercise routine and bad eating habits.

Put together a plan for the new year to eat better – more fruits and veggies, fewer treats, sugar, salt, processed foods, and soft drinks….more water. And add in a side helping of exercise. Doctors recommend 150 minutes of moderately intense activity per week. According to NPR, this amount of exercise can help ward off things like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even some cancers.

Have you contemplated running in this year’s Hattiesburg Half in April, joining a Hattiesburg Park & Rec League pickle ball team, heading to the gym before or after work? Any and all of these are a start. A consistent workout schedule and achievable goals will help get you in a routine that will keep you motivated. Fresh air will also help you feel and sleep better, as well as keep your head clear.

Exercise is also a good stress reliever as well as a good mental health tool. You can exercise as a family, partner with a friend, co-worker, or monitor your steps during a day of shopping with your daughter and her friends.

Is it too cold to get out and walk/run the neighbor or head to the gym? If so, pull the week’s worth of clothes off the treadmill and get on it, or use an app on your phone to get moving.

NPR says you don’t have to be a marathoner or a gym rat to get meaningful benefits from exercise. And yes, walking absolutely counts. Walking is a form of low impact, moderate intensity exercise that has a range of health benefits and few risks. As a result, the CDC recommends that most adults aim for 10,000 steps per day. For most people, this is the equivalent of about 5 miles.

But before you get to exercising, you need to make sure you have the proper clothing, shoes, and nourishment to get your body moving in the right direction. Your footwear is the most important piece of exercise gear you’ll need. A proper fitted pair of shoes can help you avoid injures and protect your feet.

Make sure you have socks that will wick moisture away from your skin. This will help prevent blisters. The same goes for clothes. Clothing should not restrict the flow of your arms and legs, which should be allowed to move with no restrictions and should wick sweat away from your body. In changing weather conditions, layering with a jacket and a long-sleeved shirt can keep your body temperature regulated.

If you’re going to be walking for more than 30 minutes or in extreme temperatures, you may want to carry along a water bottle. Keeping hydrated helps your body temperature stay regulated and joints lubricated.

As you get started, begin slowly. Don’t try to go all out the first day. Make sure you warm up before and stretch afterward. Your muscles will thank you.

Set some goals that are easy to attain – walk for 15 minutes for a week or so without getting winded before gradually increasing your time to 30 minutes then to 45 minutes, or even an hour.

If that’s not your cup of tea, then join a free dance class at the Ben McNair Center sponsored by Hattiesburg Park & Rec. “Dance for the Health of It” will definitely get your heartbeat up, especially when you dance the Rumba, Tango, or Cha-Cha. Classes are free to the public.

Most of us will admit that the last few years have been difficult to maneuver. That’s why it’s important to put your mental health and self care at the top of your list. More and more people are turning to exercise as a way to protect and enhance their mental health. It reduces stress, helps with anxiety, depression, and improves both sleep and brain function.

In 2023, find a way to make both your body and brain feel good by latching onto a fitness trend that is all about moving. Check local listings for gyms, workout facilities, walking tracks, and other venues where you might be able to get your exercise on. Oftentimes, they offer special membership opportunities.

Finding a way to exercise that you love and enjoy will go a long way in helping you feel your very best.