• By Clancy Harrison
  • In 2017
  • February 1, 2017

Challenge Yourself to Increase Physical Activity in the New Year

by Jess DeGore, RD

As we kick off a New Year many people have new goals or resolutions to keep but unfortunately most of these plans fail after January. The cold weather certainly doesn’t help motivation to be active whether it is an outdoor workout or battling snowy conditions to get to the gym. But physical activity doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout; it is simply just moving your body.  The focus shouldn’t be on burning calories, it should be making the body feel good and active. Today I’m sharing ideas to keep up that accountability of being more active. As always, before you begin or change any exercise patterns you should consult your physician or other licensed healthcare practitioner to ensure that you are in good health.

1| Set and hit daily steps goal

Typically 10,000 steps a day is a good starting point and most smartphones can be used as trackers if you don’t have a wearable one. A good old fashioned pedometer does the same and can be purchased for less than $10.

2| Park in the back of the parking lot

We have all heard this before but sometimes when we think about it from a different perspective it can change our thoughts or feelings. It’s cold and you have a million bags so you want to take that spot in the front but think about the person that might need that spot more than you. Consider if an elderly person without a handicapped parking sticker or a pregnant woman that is simply picking up something to curb a craving might need that close spot more than you.

3| Take the stairs

Yes this is another common tip to increase physical activity. It’s pretty self-explanatory- when stairs are an option, chose them over an elevator or escalator.

4| Set an alarm for every hour to get up, walk around the house/office, and stretch

This is particularly important for anyone stuck sitting at desk all day. Find ways to get up and move every hour to make sure you aren’t becoming too sedentary throughout the day.

5| Try a new form of exercise

Many people are afraid to step outside of their comfort zones or are stuck thinking they need to run on the treadmill to get a good workout.  Challenge yourself to try a new form of exercise- swimming, Zumba, TRX, ice skating, etc. The options are endless and you never know when you might just find something you love.

6| Give yourself goals AND track your progress

I think this is the trouble with New Year’s Resolutions, we only keep ourselves accountable the first month and then we get distracted or busy. By writing out our goals on the computer or on paper and evaluating them each week we can make sure we stay on top of them and continue to make headway.

7| Buy yourself something new or reward yourself

Sometimes we just need a little encouragement to move forward with being more active or meeting our goals. Dressing appropriately for exercise and having the right gear certainly makes it more enjoyable. Plus rewarding ourselves definitely improves positive reinforcement.

8| When watching TV set a rule to stand and walk during commercials

Binge watching is taking over so many Americans lives and it’s a terrible habit! Try taking an active break in between episodes and during advertisements. It’s also a good rule to stand and walk around when talking on the phone.

9| Cleaning around the house

Believe it or not cleaning can be a really good workout. Whether you are scrubbing the bathroom, vacuuming the bedroom, or sweeping the kitchen you are hard at work using your muscles to bust that grime. Bonus points for cleaning the basement or doing yard work. While this isn’t my favorite way to move my body at least it’s killing two birds with one stone.

10| Find activities to enjoy being active

Sometimes nonphysical activities become physical. For example: visiting a museum, going to the mall, getting groceries, etc. We can also sneak in a little more movement during these activities- walking the whole perimeter, making multiple trips, doing our own bagging, etc.

With so many options to stay active we really have no excuse not to move our bodies more. The health benefits are plentiful both physically and mentally when we improve our fitness. There are many ways to move our bodies and sometimes finding out what fits for each individual is the best way to keep active throughout the year.

Jess DeGore, RD is based in Philadelphia and specializes in nutrition counseling, brand and business consulting and corporate wellness. She blogs at Dietitian Jess. Follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.