Achieve your 2024 fitness goals with these strategies
Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to exercise regularly? While you may hit the ground running in January, you might be struggling to stick to this goal by February.
But don’t sweat it. Dr. Srikanth Nithyanandam, a family medicine physician with specialized training in primary care sports medicine at UK HealthCare – Georgetown, talks about how to adapt to an active lifestyle and commit to it.
If I want to become more active, how should I get started?
Sometimes when people think about exercise, they think about going to the gym for 30-40 minutes. But you can do any movement for 10 minutes and that still counts as exercise. Putting on music and dancing for 10 minutes counts as exercise, for example. In terms of intensity, you should be able to have a conversation but not sing during that time period. If you do that 15 times a week, you meet the recommended amount of physical activity.
Once you start to think about exercise differently, then it’s not hard to do. Anybody can do 10 minutes a day. Starting out, even 5 minutes is fine.
How do I stay motivated?
The most important thing is that you should enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, then you’re going to postpone doing it.
It’s also important to start out slow and gradually progress instead of going all out in the first month and then losing your motivation.
How do I shape my mindset about exercising?
Rather than saying you want to lose weight – because that’s an outcome goal – say you want to improve your fitness. Then you can start your journey focusing on fitness as opposed to weight loss.
How can I lower my risk for injury?
Exercise has its own risk, but the risk usually comes from more vigorous intensity, which happens when you’re exercising at a level where you can’t carry a conversation.
To start out, I highly recommend moderate-intensity exercise for three months to build a strong foundation. With moderate intensity, you’re able to talk but not sing during the activity.
You may also want to talk to a doctor, like a sports medicine physician, to get an exercise prescription. Or, you can go to a physical therapist who can assess the weakness of your musculature. They can then provide you with a prescription to address the weakness as you're starting your exercise.
What are the benefits of an active lifestyle?
If someone is active daily, the risk of multiple diseases or disorders – like diabetes and heart disease – comes down significantly. This is a long-term benefit that can help people take the first step toward a more active lifestyle.
As for short-term benefits, exercise can improve mood, focus, concentration and self-confidence.
How do you stay active?
Something that I focus on every day is decreasing my sitting time. As soon as I get up in the morning until the end of my day, I’m standing, doing my work or doing household chores.
I like practicing kung fu, and I will involve my daughter during my practice and she’ll attempt to imitate what I do. I try to get that in for 10 minutes or so. Additionally, I aim to perform calisthenics, like pull-ups and push-ups, three times a week, and I try to hit the gym once a week to focus on big lifts, like deadlifts, squats, etc.
I also try to do meditation whenever I can as a way to improve my focus.
Talking with a doctor can be helpful before you start a new exercise routine. Make an appointment with one of our primary care providers at UK HealthCare – Georgetown by calling 859-323-9333.