If you’re like most people, you’ve just spent the last two months eating. Whenever you went to work or a friend’s home, there were chocolates or cookies out. You were encouraged to eat, even if you weren’t hungry. You were invited to try your best friend’s new Christmas pie. Food was all around you, and it wasn’t right to say no to all the good tastes.
And here we are at the beginning of 2017! You’ve got your goals written down. You’ve got your resolutions firmly set in your mind. You’re ready to lose the weight, get back in shape, and deliver a firm NO to anyone that offers you food. This is a great way to start off the year!
Turn Your Resolutions into Results
However, it’s important to not let that resolution become like most goals that get set in January, often turning into wasteful bursts of energy that lead nowhere. Why? Because if you are 35 years or older, resolutions about exercise and diet become more and more important as you age. And it’s not only about your physical health but exercise and diet play a significant role in your mental health as well.
Furthermore, at the beginning of the year, you’ve got the willpower and the longing to make this change in your life. You’ve got the strength to make it happen. If you can get started and exercise regularly for the first three weeks of 2017, a routine of regular physical activity is sure to stay with you for the remainder of the year. In other words, start exercising and you’ll make it a habit.
The Power of Habit
According to Charles Duhigg, author of the Power of Habit, you have the power to change your life. No matter what bad habit you’re facing, including ignoring your physical health. You can change! Regardless of the unhealthy habit you have now, you can make it different!
Charles Duhigg has this to say about habits:
To modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it—and every chapter in this book is devoted to illustrating a different aspect of why that control is real.”
So if you’re willing to change, then all it takes is doing it. Everyone has habits that are not good for them, including drinking too much coffee, smoking, or not exercising. But knowing that you have the power to change is what counts!
Physical Health Supports Mental Health
Regular exercise can restore and maintain your physical health, clarity of mind, and psychological well being. But the relationship between physical health and mental health isn’t obvious to everyone. However, anyone who has a regular exercise routine knows that when they’re moving their body, those feel-good emotions last much longer than the workout. Plus, research shows that exercise can actually prevent depression.
A study published in American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that even moderate exercise could prevent episodes of depression over the long term. The study analyzed 26 years worth of research findings, which revealed that even low levels of physical activity, such as walking for 20-30 minutes per day, could prevent depression.
Here are some additional psychological benefits to exercise:
- Improve self-image
- Relieve stress
- Improve mood
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Provide a healthy hobby
- Sharpen mental skills
- Experience positive feelings about yourself
- Release endorphins
- Improve the health of your brain
- Boost continued change your life
- Promotes better sleep and prevents insomnia
- Adds fun to your life
Physical exercise can also be used as a coping mechanism. For instance, if you and your spouse were arguing, you might use exercise as a way to clear your head. You might use the time to process your feelings and perhaps the expressed feelings of your spouse. You might simply get out your anger or frustration. In fact, running or walking or doing yoga can be a healthy way to release anger. Vigorous exercise is a healthy way to manage intense emotions that can come with working through the difficulties of relationships.
Physical Benefits to Exercise
In addition to overall psychological well being, there are many medical benefits to regular exercise. For instance, according to the Center for Disease Control, benefits to regular physical activity can include:
- Weight loss and weight management
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce your risk of type 2 Diabetes
- Reduce your risk of certain types of cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mood
- Improve circulation
- Remove toxins from the body through sweating
- Strengthen the heart
- Boosts energy
- More restful sleep
- Improve your ability to do more in your day
- Prevent falls
- Increase chances of living longer
Perhaps this one is obvious: when you exercise regularly you’ll experience health benefits. The trouble for most people is setting aside the time to exercise. It’s making sure physical activity remains a priority in your life, along with work and family relationships.
However, the good news is that at least some exercise in your week can be beneficial. And even if you wanted to exercise for hours a day, research shows that a high dose of exercise doesn’t bring any extra benefits than someone who is exercises moderately throughout the week.
The Right Amount of Exercise
Studies show that exercising at least three times per week is an ideal amount. Anyone who can schedule this into their weekly schedule is right on track. Remember that exercising above and beyond this won’t bring you any extra benefits. In fact, some athletes have expressed concerns that their level of exercise might even be harmful.
However, according to research, the right amount of exercise is approximately 450 minutes per week, or roughly just over an hour per day. Ideally, include some cardiovascular activities – those that boost your heart rate. These can include:
- step aerobics
- jumping rope
- cross country skiing
But even if you didn’t include cardiovascular activity, moderate exercise everyday for one hour will bring big results. If you are at work or have time limitations, you might try a one hour yoga class three times per week or moving the body in five minute increments throughout your work day. No matter how you engage in the exercise, as long as you are moving your body daily, you’ll feel the effects of exercise, and you’ll see the ways that it can support your physical and mental health.
Here’s How To Achieve Your 2017 Exercise Goals
If you want to see results from your exercise goals in 2017, consider the following two tips:
- Make your exercise goals SMART.
- Write down your goals.
If you want to reach the goals you set for yourself this year, first take some time to think about what you want. Yes, you want to exercise more often, but when and how? In other words, you need to get more specific. You also need to consider your current responsibilities and how you’re going to fit exercise in your daily life. After you’ve given your goals some thought, refine them so that they are SMART:
Specific – A goal is specific when it is clearly defined.
Measurable – Make it measurable, such as 30 minutes twice per week. Make it something within your reach so that once you get there you can reach for another goal.
Attainable – Having goals that are unrealistic and unattainable only set you up for failure. But a goal that is attainable leads to success and more confidence for reaching your next goal.
Relevant – Your goal should be relevant to the direction in which you want to go.
Time-Bound – Goals also need to have a deadline. For instance, I’m going to exercise 30 minutes before my workday on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Once you’ve refined your goal to meet the requirements above, then write that goal down! A recent study found that people are 9 times more successful if they write down their goals than if they hadn’t written them down. Nine times more successful is a significant difference!
Now is the perfect time to think about your goals, refine them, and write them down! Of course, don’t have to wait to get this done before you exercise. Start today!