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More Exercise: Your New Year’s Resolution!

Male instructor at Spinning Class


More exercise: Your New Year’s Resolution!

New Years Resolution ExerciseThe World Health Organisation has reported up to 60% of the population do not achieve the recommended 30 minutes a day of moderate physical exercise. Accordingly, the prevalence of many physical health problems are skyrocketing and the western population is experiencing what is known as the “obesity epidemic”. The physical problems associated with lack of exercise are not the only concern; physical activity has repeatedly been shown to influence psychology and neurology.

A regular exercise regime is essential for a healthy and happy lifestyle. Physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight range, improves body strength and fitness, and has positive psychological effects. People who exercise regularly generally live happier lives and are less stressed than those who do not. So as we approach a brand new year why not make your resolution this year to start an exercise regime or to enhance the regime you already maintain!


Defining your New Year’s Resolution

The festive period is a time of alcohol overindulgence which has a negative effect on sporting performance, rate of injury, activity of skeletal muscles, and psychomotor skills. After the celebrations of New Year’s Eve it may be very difficult to motivate yourself to engage in physical activity so it is important to define and set your resolutions before this time.

Be specific when defining your resolution. Set clear and specific goals to give you something to focus on and motivate yourself. You should have a general idea of what you want to gain from your exercise regime. You may be exercising to improve your fitness or body image, you could want to improve the way you handle stress or depression or all of the above! Whatever your goals, there is a range of different activities that will help you achieve them, once you can identify what you want from your exercise regime it will be clear what you need to do in the New Year. This is of course not to say that all physical activity should be put on hold until the New Year! Refraining from exercise during the holiday period will only make it more difficult to begin your new exercise regime.


Initiating an active lifestyle

Exercise New Years ResolutionIf you have been inactive for over 6 months, it is wise to seek advice from a medical professional before you jump onto the track and start running marathons! This is especially important if you have, or have had, any cardiovascular (heart), muscular or weight problems. A doctor, physiotherapist or sports trainer will be able to assess your current fitness level and help you set achievable goals.

Beginning your new regime in January you need to be aware of the dangers of overheating. The body’s core temperature naturally rises during exercise. When exercising outdoors on a hot day, your temperature rises even more dramatically. In some circumstances, this can lead to a form of heat illness. Make sure you discuss these with your doctor and avoid exercise in the middle of the day when the heat is most intense.
Whether you are just beginning a healthy exercise regime or you are already fit and active, there are some important steps that we all need to follow before, during and after exercising to protect ourselves from sports related injuries and other physical distress.

For information on these important steps see Preparing for Exercise.


The range of exercise benefits


Exercising to combat stress, depression and anxiety

Exercise can be used as psychotherapy. Regular exercise has been shown to be a cost-effective treatment for moderate depression – it increases self esteem, improves social skills and can be a lot of fun. Along with the “antidepressant” qualities of exercise it has been shown to significantly decrease stress and anxiety and combat the harmful consequences of stress on emotions, physical and mental health.

More information on physical activity and mental health.


Exercise for toning and body image

Exercise New Years ResolutionThere is only one way to achieve abs and butts of steel and that is through exercise. Many women steer away from weight training for fear that they will “bulk up” but this will only happen if you lift very heavy weights several times a week. If your New Year’s Resolution is to tone up and improve your body image medium weights 2-3 times per week will help you to achieve this.

More information on resistance training.


Exercise for building muscle

The most effective way to build muscle is to lift heavy weights with fewer repetitions. If your goal is to build muscle, it is very important that the weight training exercises are performed with the correct technique to avoid damage and therefore it is best to consult a personal trainer.

More information on resistance training exercises.


Exercise for fitness

Improving your fitness level will have a number of beneficial effects on your heart, muscles, lungs and mental health. Focus on increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of physical activity. Continuously and gradually increasing distance, speeds or weights, will improve fitness.

More information on fitness.


Exercise for weight loss

 

Exercise New Years ResolutionThere is a well documented tendency for people to overindulge during the festive season which commonly leading to substantial weight gain over the holiday period. Studies have shown that people generally gain as much as 500% more weight per week during holiday weeks compared with non-holiday weeks.

To lose this holiday weight, energy expenditure must exceed energy intake. All exercise will burn energy. The greater the duration, intensity and frequency of the exercise, the more likely you will be able to successfully shed the weight. The best weight loss activities are those which increase the heart rate the most. These activities should begin at a low intensity and be built up. They should be done in combination with activities with lower cardiovascular strain.

More information on weight loss.

More information

Health in the New Year For more information on staying healthy in the New Year, including tips on diet, partying, exercise and general health, see Health in the New Year.

References

  1. Suija K, Pechter U, Kalda R, Tahepold H, Maaroos J, Maroos HI. Physical activity of depressed patients and their motivation to exercise: Nordic Walking in family practice. Int J Rehab Res. 2009; 32: 132-8.
  2. El-Sayed MS, Ali N, El-Sayed Ali Z. Interaction between alcohol and exercise: Physiological and haematological implications. Sports Med. 2005; 35(3): 257-69.
  3. Brukner P, Khan K [eds]. Clinical Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. North Ryde: McGraw-Hill; 2006.
  4. Hoffman J. Physiological Aspects of Sport Training and Endurance. New Jersey: Human Kinetics; 2002.
  5. Salmon P. Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: a unifying theory. Clinical Psychology Review. 2001; 21(1): 33-61.
  6. Baker RC, Kirschenbaum DS. Weight control during the holidays: highly consistent self-monitoring as a potentially useful coping mechanism. Health Psychology. 1998; 17(4):367-70.
  7. McArdle WD, Katch FI, Katch VL. Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance. 5th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2001.

Dates

Posted On: 15 December, 2009
Modified On: 3 June, 2010

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