Its the new year and the start of the third year of my Healthy Actions columns. These are monthly columns tapping into the vast medical and health community we have here.
To see previous Healthy Actions columns, with the accompanying Facebook Live videos from experts since 2018, go to http://www.tinyurl.com/HealthyActionsABJ
Also, if you have an idea for a topic that I havent covered, send an email with "Healthy Actions" in the subject line to email@example.com
So lets jump into the new year by talking about the very popular New Years resolution of getting fit.
My expert this month is Ali Ziegler, a Summa Health athletic trainer who is health and wellness director at the Lake Anna YMCA in Barberton.
Q: So its the New Year and a lot of people have the question, "How do I get motivated to get to the gym or work out at home and stick with it?"
A: The first thing is you have to choose the right gym for you. There are tons of different facilities in our area. The biggest thing as far as the Y goes is we include everyone and even have a scholarship option for those who may qualify for financial assistance.
You should call and ask questions and go and visit the facility youre considering. See if you can have a day pass. How inviting are the people at the front desk and at the gym?
Watch the fine print and commitment level. Some of them have one-time fees, which can add up. Some offer specials in January. The Akron Area YMCAs are waiving the $50 startup fee through the end of January and their membership fees are month to month. (www.akronymca.org)
Q: For some people, does having a membership that they have paid get them going to the gym and keep them going?
A: Yes, that can be a motivator. If youre paying, you feel like you have to go.
Q: Ive heard it can take up to three weeks to form a habit. Is that true?
A: It depends on the person. It can take three weeks or up to six months. The biggest thing is building that habit into your daily routine.
Q: Would it be good to start with short-term goals?
A: Yes. Maybe for January, you say youre going to go one to two times a week and build from there rather than say "Im going to go four times a week" and not go.
Q: What about young parents or people who say they just dont have time in their day to get to the gym?
A: If you cant get out of the house or to the gym, develop a healthy habit to do at home. I know its hard. You have to put yourself first. Maybe while your kid is napping, do a quick half-hour workout at home. Or do exercises at commercials when youre sitting down watching TV with the family.
Q: How much exercise do you recommend?
A: Typically, you should do 120 minutes of exercise a week and up to 150 minutes if its moderate or vigorous. Cardio should be included in that to get your heart rate up. When you walk up the stairs at work, that also is technically a workout. The little things throughout the day can build up throughout the week.
Q: Can you work out too much?
A: You can. Working out too much can lead to injury as it can cause a lot of fatigue. If youre working out two hours a day, its too much, or every single day every single week.
Listen to your body and it will tell you when you need a break.
Q: What if I dont have time or money to go to a gym. What are things I can do on my own?
A: The easiest thing to do when its nice out, is to walk or run. In the winter, even snow shoveling is exercise or gardening in the summer. Again, anything to get your heart rate up. You can also work out at home without equipment. You can do wall sits, pushups, planks and you can come up with specific exercises to meet your goals. You can find apps on your phone that will give you specific workouts. You can even use cans of food for weights.
Q: How important is variety in your workouts?
A: You want to break it up so your body can recuperate. If you do legs on Monday, you probably dont want to do it Tuesday. Every other day is a good way to look at it.
Q: What tips do you have for promoting the behavior change to exercise and eat well?
A: With any general behavior change, you have to change your mindset. If Im going to work out today, am I in the right mindset? Do I have to convince myself to go? Try to keep a journal or use an app and keep track of what youre doing to keep yourself going.
Put out your workout clothes the night before so youll see it right away in the morning.
Think about your goals and visualize it. Put a picture of a beach if you want to get ready for swimsuit season.
Think about a reward system, after you make a goal, reward yourself.
Q: Do workout buddies or someone to keep you accountable help?
A: 100 percent. A workout partner is a great way to have someone to keep you motivated and to have someone to push you. Text each other if you cant see each other to tell each other about your workout.
Q: Can you talk about the difference between losing weight and feeling good? Many people dont lose weight but gain muscle and their clothes fit differently because theyre in shape.
A: Thats true. We have a class where we are not tracking weight loss, but the inches you are losing and your change in your body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.
Getting fit might not be about losing weight, but how your clothes are fitting better.
Q: What if someone gets a great start at the beginning of the year with a workout routine and then falls out of the routine?
A: This is the part where you need the motivation and to keep encouraging yourself. Half the battle is walking through the door. The biggest thing is getting back in there, finding your support system to keep you motivated. Go back to Step 1 and start again.
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