Welcome to 2018! The turning over of the calendar often prompts reflection on the preceding year, as well as motivation to build new habits and do things even better in the future.

If you’re like most of us, improving your personal health and fitness is high on the to-do list for 2018. Maybe you need to lose some weight. Maybe you want to build strength or endurance. Maybe you just want to have a little more energy left at the end of the day. Whatever your big-picture goals are, a new exercise plan is going to be a vital component.

Exercise Plan

But sticking to it isn’t always so easy! Here are some tips for helping you balance a good exercise plan and achieve your personal fitness goals in the new year:

Start slow. One of the biggest mistakes most people make when starting a new exercise program? They try to do too much, too soon. If you go straight from spending most of your time on the coach to hitting the gym every morning, you’re going to burn out fast (and you might even injure yourself). Set your sights low—at first. Shoot for 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three times per week. When you’re able to handle that level of activity comfortably, you can slowly increase the intensity, duration, or days per week.

Set SMART goals. SMART means your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, “get healthy” isn’t specific enough. “Losing 100 pounds” isn’t attainable (at least for your “first round” of goal setting). “Be able to bench press 135 pounds … eventually” isn’t time-bound. You want to set highly specific, measurable goals that are realistically achievable within a relatively short time frame—anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Once you’ve reached one SMART goal, celebrate! Then set another. SMART goals help you stay focused and motivated, rather than unfocused and discouraged.

Cross train. Your exercise plan shouldn’t be overloading with too much of the same type of activity. If, for example, you do nothing but run four times per week, you’ll wear out your feet and overwork some muscle groups while ignoring others. You should mix up different types of activities, including some low-impact cardio (think swimming or cycling). This will work your muscles and joints more evenly and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Plus, it helps you avoid getting bored!

Exercising with a Friend

Bring a friend. Having a “buddy” work out with you can be a great motivator for both you and your friend. You can encourage one another and keep each other honest. And it won’t just be “time to exercise,” but also time to catch up and enjoy one another’s company.

Talk to your doctor. In this blog, we’ve mostly avoided recommending specific exercises. There’s a reason for that—everyone is different, and everyone has different fitness goals. Someone trying to lose weight is going to have a very different exercise plan from someone trying to build endurance or improve core strength. Speak with a doctor before you build a custom exercise plan—especially if you’re significantly out of shape or have a medical condition like diabetes or neuropathy. Share your goals and concerns. We can help you put together an exercise plan that’s safe and effective, based on both your current needs and your future goals.

One last point: foot pain can a significant obstacle to maintaining a healthy exercise plan. It’s hard to gear up for activity when aching feet have you dreading every step! If your feet or ankles are preventing you from the exercise and lifestyle you desire, head into Fixing Feet Institute for a checkup and treatment options. We can offer plenty of great advice on exercise programs, shoes, and diet, too! To schedule, give us a call today at (623) 584-5556.

Dr. Peyman A. Elison
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Founder and Managing Partner of Fixing Feet Institute
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