Dr. Vicki: Plan your exercise and exercise your plan for the New Year

Monday, December 27, 2010

Victoria Rhoades, ND
by Victoria Rhoades, ND

So, as the holiday season winds up, and the last of the cookies and pies are disappearing, a lot of us are starting to look out our waistlines and go ‘hmmmmmm.’ Some people are thinking of various diets, but also of starting an exercise plan.

Why exercise? Well, in addition to waist control, a good, well designed exercise plan will help you to feel better and brighter, and will help in the management of a number of conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, and many others. There are even some scientific studies that show that consistent exercise slows the aging process on a cellular level.

If you have a medical condition, I urge you to see a medical professional before you start either an exercise OR a diet program, as proper advice will help you to prevent worsening an existing condition.

If you are a beginner, there are a few basics to consider:

1. Define your goals. Be clear, and set a reasonable expectation of how quickly you can expect the results you want. Elite athletes don’t train for a week or two and expect results – they typically train for months or even years.

2. Go slow at the start; this will help you to keep from overdoing it or injuring yourself. Better to go slowly and maintain a program for months (preferably, for life).

3. Be consistent. You need a plan that you can stick to – it’s okay to go off for a week if you go on vacation or become ill. But you need to get right back on track again once you are home or healthy again. Plan your strategy.

4. Accountability. Build in accountability in the form of working out with friends, keeping a record of your exercise on the fridge door, or regular appointments with a personal trainer, nutritionist, or other medical professional. Accountability may be the most important item to keep you from falling off the wagon altogether. Plan on it. Do it.

5. Below, I mention cross training – if you are a beginner, just start a consistent program and keep it up for a few months before adding in new things or increasing time spent on workouts.

If you are an experienced exerciser, a few more basics:

1. Again, define your goals, and be reasonable. You’ve been doing 5k, three times a week, and your goal is to marathon? Increase amounts slowly, and consider a trainer experienced with helping people meet your goal.

2. Consider cross training – if you run or bike, you may have muscles that have adapted to that particular exercise, and a program of stretching (e.g., yoga) may help you to increase your efficiency and even prevent injury. On the other hand, if you do yoga only, consider an aerobic plan to improve your endurance.

3. An ideal exercise program includes aerobic workouts, as well as strength (aka, resistance) training, and a plan to maintain flexibility and balance. All are important. Talk to a trainer or other professional to determine the right balance for you.

What is a good type of exercise? What is a good amount? Well, it depends on how much and what type of exercise you have been doing already, what your physical condition is. This is where an evaluation by a professional comes in handy, to find out what will work best for you, how to start, and how to increase to meet your exercise goals.

Can’t stand the outdoors when it’s cold and wet? Invest in a stationary bike for at-home, or borrow exercise tapes from the library. Once you find tapes that you really like, buy them, and use them. Exercise tapes are great, and cover topics from yoga to dance to basic workouts. Look for a basic or beginner’s workout for starters – I suggest working out with someone who knows how to do the moves at first, so you don’t injure yourself (this is where working out with a friend can be handy). Don’t overdo it. If it feels too fast-paced, then it probably is.

To gym or not to gym? It depends. Gyms in January typically are crowded, parking is awful, the instructors are overly busy, it can be expensive, and shared equipment can be a germ magnet. However, gyms have much more consistent weather, and it may be your best option. The parking really improves by about February 1st. Before joining a gym, check out their equipment (will you use it?) and shop around for special New Years’ deals that many gyms offer. Also consider practicalities – Is it close to home or work? Is it clean? Does it offer freebies (body fat testing, an evaluation by a trainer at the outset)? Are the classes at a time that works for you? Can you afford it for the long haul? Only you can answer these questions to your satisfaction – whatever you choose, it has to work for YOU.

Do you want help figuring out what will work for you? I can help you to design a program suited to you and your needs, and send out emails to check up on you. I am relentlessly reasonable in helping people figure out ways to improve their health.

Victoria Rhoades, ND practices in Lake Forest Park and is looking at her own waistline and muttering, ‘hmmmmmmm, the local Y is fairly close and not that expensive.’


Sarah3ahary May 29, 2014 at 3:09 PM  

I think this is the post everyone, who loses weight, should read every day! It's very motivating and interesting. I think the best way to tay healthy and slim is choosing a healthy way of living. I use my favourite service (click here if you want to visit it) and have learnt a lot of helpful stuff there, like you should drink much water every day, especially before meals and while exercising and eat natural food. Well if you can't refuse some fast food, try to take water-rich fruits as snack food or just eat fruits and berries as snack and don't eat 2-3 hours before going to bed. And of course, do exercises on a regular basis. You cn choose running, I think that's great option - you my go running at any time, you don't have to pay for it and you don't depend on others!

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