For many Americans, the holidays are several weeks packed with the hustle and bustle and stress over wearing the perfect outfit, picking out the perfect gift and hosting the perfect party. During all of this, they find themselves stressed out and lacking energy. Many forget about taking care of themselves and wish for a recovery day.
The simplest way to reduce those stress levels and improve your health is to just get moving. In the world of exercise, it’s called physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine defines this as any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscles that results in a substantial increase in caloric requirements over resting energy expenditure.
What does physical activity look like? Anything that gets you moving. It is completing activities of daily living, like cleaning the house, shoveling the drive or taking a leisurely walk with the family.
Exercise may be a scary word for many people. This does not mean you have to get into the gym with the people throwing down heavy weights or grunting and sweating profusely. It doesn’t have to involve running a race or having to spend a lot of money.
Again, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, exercise is a type of physical activity consisting of planned, structured and repetitive movement done to improve or maintain physical fitness.
So, the three keys to starting a healthy exercise program is to plan a physical activity every day, eat in moderation and set small goals.
You can start a simple exercise program that will boost your energy levels for parties, family get-togethers and other activities. Gather friends and family for a daily workout. It can be as simple as a brisk walk for 30 minutes around the neighborhood. Doing this for at least four days a week for three months gets you off the sedentary category.
When you are doing these activities, pay attention to what you are consuming. One can of soda has about 150 calories in it. If you eliminate just one of those from your daily routine, that helps. And watch portion sizes. Eating to the point when you are so full you just want to crawl in bed to sleep is not healthy.
When it comes to your goals, be SMART, which stands for specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive. Remember that we cannot change our habits or bodies overnight. So, use apps or websites to track your intake and expenditures such as My Fitness Pal or FitDay.com. Don’t forget to take before and after pictures.
Finally, write down why you are making these changes now. This way you can start the new year off right so you feel better as you progress forward into 2018.
You can do it! You have to put your mind in place first and your body will follow. I wish you the very best on your journey to a new you.
Nicole L. Koontz is the associate director of the Adult Physical Fitness Program at Ball State University.
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