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Resolve to exercise?

Group of friends stretching in the snow in winter.

Tips to get you moving and motivated

Many people start out the new year with an ambitious list of resolutions. One common item on that list: regular exercise.

While many people turn to exercise with the goal of weight loss, the benefits of exercising are wide-ranging. Exercise can improve your mood, boost your energy, promote better sleep, and combat health conditions and diseases.

If you're new to exercise, it may be difficult to get started, or you may find yourself overdoing it. For these reasons, it's important to start out small and slowly work your way up. If you do too much too fast, you risk injury.

Here are some tips for getting started with a new fitness routine:

Consider your fitness goals: Clear goals can help you track your progress and stay motivated. Is your goal to lose weight? Or maybe to run a 5k? Whatever it is, write it down and refer to it when you need encouragement.

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Talk to your doctor: If you are new to exercise or have chronic health issues, talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Build activity into your daily routine: It's easy to come up with excuses not to exercise. To avoid this, schedule your time to exercise like you would any other appointment. You can also break up your workout—it may be easier to fit in three 10-minute workouts in a day than it is to fit in one 30-minute workout.

Take a walk: Incorporate more walking into your daily routine. When possible, take stairs rather than using an elevator, park further away from your destination, schedule a walking meeting rather than a sit-down meeting, or organize a lunchtime walking group at your workplace. If you enjoy the outdoors, go for a hike or visit a park.

Take a class: From yoga to Zumba, there are a lot of fitness classes to choose from. Find one that you enjoy. When you enjoy your workout, you will be more likely to stick with it. Also keep in mind that you can modify your movements in class to what works best for you. This is especially important when you are starting out.

Join a team or club: Kickball is no longer just for kids. Many cities and towns have recreational sports leagues for adults as well as running and biking clubs. See if something is available in your area, and if not, organize a pick-up game with friends or kick a soccer ball with your kids.

Vary your workout: Planning a variety of activities will prevent boredom and also allow you to focus on different parts of your body. Mix up cardio workouts with strength training. Keeping a varied routine should also prevent you from plateauing in your performance and results.

Have a fitness partner: Working out with a friend is a great way to stay motivated and have fun.

Download an app: There are many free online programs and apps, including running and yoga apps, to assist with keeping fit. Tracking your progress on your computer or on your smartphone is another way to stay motivated.

Listen to your body: While working out, if you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, take a break.

Have days of rest: You can avoid sore muscles and joints by giving your body time to recover following workouts. If you're new to working out, rest every third day. More experienced exercisers should take a recovery day once a week.

Exercise and physical activity will help you feel better, increase your energy and improve your overall health. The recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. It's important to remember that fitness programs are not one-size-fits-all. Find what you enjoy doing, mix it up to keep it interesting and keep at it.

The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.

 
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