How to keep your exercise resolution

Person doing pushups

Resolved: I’m going to exercise more in the new year.

January is a natural time to launch an exercise routine. You’ll have an easier time keeping your resolution into June or longer if you follow these five guidelines.

1. Add variety to your workouts.

An exercise menu of just one activity can get boring. Mix up your “diet” with equal portions of aerobic conditioning, strength work, and flexibility activities.

Consult an exercise coach or join an exercise group to help get you started on a balanced exercise routine.

At the very least, find an exercise buddy who can motivate you and keep you both from binging on one form of exercise.

2. Don’t let winter’s cold and gloom get you down.

Choose a time and place that works for you. That aging exercise bike in your cluttered basement laundry room might not call out to you at 5 a.m. on a January morning.

Find a comfortable place that welcomes you, whether it’s in your own home or at a local fitness center.

Make sure it's a place that’s easy to get to so you don’t have one more excuse to cancel your workout on a low-energy day.

If your schedule allows you to work out in daylight conditions, give it a try. Think of it as rewarding yourself with time in your busy day. 

If winter weather allows, schedule some exercise activity outdoors. The sunlight can do wonders for a winter-gloomy mood.

3. Find the right starting point for you.

If you haven’t left the couch in the past 10 years, don’t even think about running a marathon next weekend. 

Take it easy at the start. You can get to the grueling stuff when your body is conditioned for it.

Working out too much or too long on your first days will likely make your muscles sore. And, before you know it you’ll be talking yourself into “taking a few days off” from exercising. 

A body not accustomed to heavy workouts is more vulnerable to injuries, which can sidetrack your good intentions to exercise.

4. Contact your doctor to discuss any heart, breathing, medication, or joint concerns.

Your doctor can provide safe guidelines to make sure your exercise does no harm to your heart, lungs, muscles, or joints. Also, your doctor is familiar with medications you’re taking and any movement or balance limitations they might have.

Many primary care doctors and cardiologists pay close attention to exercise research. They can guide you to exercise programs that yield results for your particular health condition. They can also steer you clear of exercise or nutrition fads that provide you no value.

Don’t be surprised if your doctor recommends something really simple, like walking. Recent studies have shown that for many adults walking may be more effective than running, and easier on the joints. 

5. Aim your exercise toward realistic lifestyle goals.

Yes, a healthy exercise program can be part of a plan to lose weight. But consider exercise for many other things it can do for your life.

Participating in races and other competitions may be your near-term goal. Having mobility and energy well into your elderly years should be your long-term goal. Developing an exercise-friendly attitude now can help you then.

Think about how exercise can help you achieve goals like 

  • Joining your children or grandchildren in play activities
  • Playing a round of golf with your business associates
  • Enjoying an adventure vacation with family or friends
  • Getting out for regular walks with your favorite furry friend
Last reviewed: 
January 2019
Alternative Names: 
Health resolutions

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