The Little Things That Count

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January 13, 2009

By Lynn Difley

So we’re already a week into the New Year. How are you doing with your resolutions? My exercise classes have been packed all this week with new faces and unfamiliar bodies. I know, from experience, that the majority of them will last a short while, take one or two classes, try to keep up with the people who have been coming three times a week for two years, and quit in despair.

It doesn’t need to happen that way. If you are new to exercise, or have been away for a while, set your goals on an attainable level. Please do not try to lose 50 pounds in one week through exercise. It’s just not possible, and most likely you will hurt yourself trying. Instead of grandiose, unattainable goals, be content with a smaller goal that you can achieve.
The success of starting and maintaining a program for a period of time can give you courage to tackle a bigger goal and teach you the skills you need for becoming an enthusiast in your chosen exercise form. Forget the “all or nothing” mentality for beginning your new exercise program. Studies have shown that short sessions of exercise have similar benefit to a longer session, and is particularly successful for the de-conditioned individual.
Instead of trying to jog for an hour a day, promise yourself you will exercise for two ten minute stints, starting right now. Beginning with an easier, more attainable goal leads to confidence and strength to involve yourself with larger, more demanding sessions.
So how do you get started with your own twice-daily workouts? You can walk, ride a bike, hop on a treadmill, put on music and dance, jump rope, kick box, you name it, anything that gets your heart beating and blood pumping. Take 2 to 3 minutes to warm up, performing your exercise gently and easily; letting your exertion level and heart rate slowly increase. Spend 7 or 8 minutes at a moderate to brisk pace, one that requires deep breathing, and produces a light sweat. Now cool down for 2-3 minutes. That’s all there is to it.
Pick an activity you love, and as you get used to it, add more time and intensity onto your sessions. Be conservative, add no more than a 10 % increase at a time, until you find yourself hooked on your exercise, addicted to the good feeling and improved health that comes from giving your body its required dose of movement on a regular basis.

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  7. kristi

    Hey thanks for mentioning us gals new to exercise classes. I’ve started alot of them, but fizzled out trying to keep up with their conditioned bodies ! I gave up, I decided that only conditioned bodies can do it. But I’ve often wondered why a class teacher doesn’t ask the new ladies to stay behind, and give them the kind of Pep Talk you covered here…and tell them to think about what in the class workout, that they feel they would want to master, one thing at a time. Then there is a happy quest instead of the failure they are feeling at the end of that session.
    Newbies will feel included. Anyway, my hats off to you !