Around this time of year, many of us start setting ambitious goals for the next twelve months, and many of them relate to health and fitness. These goals are admirable, but in many cases, completely unrealistic. Resolutions like fitting into a certain pair of jeans by summer, or getting up every morning at 5 am for a fitness class, or doing 100 push ups every day tend to fall apart pretty quickly – usually by January 19, or so-called “Quitters’ Day,” when a staggering percentage of us abandon our resolutions completely. It’s not that these are bad goals, but taking a realistic approach and understanding the roles of motivation and consistency can help set you up for success. To help you get started, here are five realistic resolutions for improving health and fitness in 2021.
This seems almost too simple, but getting outdoors is so important for our mental and physical states. Block out thirty to forty minutes on your daily schedule for a walk – take the kids or the dog or just yourself. Working from home means sedentary lifestyles have increased, and all that time spent sitting wreaks havoc on your body. Thirty minutes of fresh air and movement every day will become surprisingly addicting, so treat it like an appointment. And leave the phone home!
Maybe you’ve already have kicked the soda habit to the curb already (if not, it’s time to do so). Maybe you diligently fill up your water bottle several times a day. But reconsider your daily liquid intake – it’s a golden opportunity to get more nutrients. A smoothie is a great way to incorporate leafy greens like kale and spinach and nutrient-dense veggies like beets. Mask it with some frozen pineapple and water or unflavored almond milk, and you’ll have an enjoyable beverage that’s actually doing you good.
We spend a third of our lives snoozing, so do it properly. Turn off the television before bed and pick up a book instead. The blue light we stare at all day long – an average of ten hours for many of us – not only strain the eyes, it messes with melatonin levels. That’s the hormones that regulates our sleep cycles. Try turning off the blue light on your devices, or ditch them altogether at least an hour before bed. Going to bed earlier is a benefit too. Even an extra hour of sleep a night can mean a brighter mood, more energy, increased productivity, and a decreased risk of disease.
If you’re chained to a laptop all day, get yourself a set-up for standing. Sitting for hours on end is so detrimental to your physical health. Protect your back with a professional laptop stand, or just stack a few books or boxes until you find a height that’s comfortable. Ideally, your eyes should be level with the top third of the screen, which may necessitate a separate keyboard. If that isn’t going to work, make a point of breaking every thirty minutes to an hour to stand, stretch, and move around for a few minutes. Consider swapping out your chair or sofa with a yoga ball and remember that good posture goes a long way.
There are a number of drawbacks to modern technology, and “tech neck” is one of them. But one simple activity can help build mobility in the shoulders, decompress the spine, improve posture, build strength in the upper back, and improve your grip strength. Meet the dead hang, an exercise in which you simply hang from a bar. If your daily walk happens in a park, take advantage of the monkey bars to practice hanging, or consider a pull-up bar that fits over the doorframe at home. Build up to a one-minute hang a few times a week and reap the benefits.
So often, the first step is the hardest. If improving health and fitness is a resolution for you this year, but you can’t pin down your goals any further than that, a certified personal trainer is worth considering. The professionals here at Framework Personal Training in Reno will help you pinpoint realistic, attainable goals, keep you motivated and accountable, and ensure you’re moving toward success in a safe, efficient manner. Contact us today to learn more, and happy new year!