New Year's Resolution: Get Fit
Resolved to exercise and get in shape? Here's how to actually do it.
Starting to Make Healthy Choices continued...
Exercise does not need to be a formal activity, either. It does not require
a big chunk of time carved out of your day. Decades ago, people stayed fit by
doing ordinary things like doing housework, taking the stairs, and playing with
their kids, says Pauline Wallin, PhD, a clinical psychologist in private
practice, and a personal life coach in Camp Hill, Pa.
Some activities can even double as weight-bearing exercise, the other
component of an ideal fitness program. This type of exercise involves anything
that uses body weight against gravity. Examples include walking, jogging,
playing basketball, yoga, martial arts, push-ups, weight training, and free
To get maximum benefits, focus on working out the larger muscle groups. Most
of the muscle mass in the body lies in the trunk, thighs, chest, back, and
abdomen. Targeting these areas will give "you the biggest bang for your
buck, so to speak, for your workout time," says Ross. He suggests starting
out with one set of eight to 15 repetitions of one exercise two days a
If you are unsure about how to perform certain exercises properly, seek
expert help. You may hire a personal trainer for one or two sessions to get
started. "Many people try to (start a fitness program) on their own, and
they try things that really aren't meant to get the long-term result," says
Ross. "It's extremely beneficial to get education if you feel like you need
Consulting a dietitian for nutrition advice may help as well. Healthy eating
is an essential part of a good fitness program. A person who works out a lot
but does not nourish the body properly could be sabotaging or hiding the fruits
of his labor.
Dee Sandquist, MSRD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association,
advises having a general plan, and investing some time in advance to make it
happen. "Taking five minutes on the weekend to plan your food for the week
can pay huge dividends," she says. "Look at your schedule for the
upcoming week, and find out how many meals you'll be eating in and how many
meals you'll be eating out. Make a list, and then go to the grocery