Thu | Feb 2, 2023

Track your fitness progress

Published:Wednesday | December 28, 2022 | 12:16 AM

At the end of each holiday season, persons set out to create new goals for the coming year, as a new year presents a fresh start. Many health and exercise goals are created with the best of intentions but fall short in execution, as people often overcommit to those goals from the start, making them inevitably unrealistic and unattainable.

While making resolutions is easy, sticking with them is not. Exercise-related resolutions consistently make the top 10 list, but up to 80 per cent of resolutions to be healthier, including promises to exercise more, are tossed aside by February.

You know that physical activity is good for you, but that is not always enough to get or keep you moving.

According to Charmaine Plummer, senior health education officer, National Focal Point In Physical Activity at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, research shows that every single system in the body benefits when the individual is more active.

“You sleep better. You have more energy. You find yourself in a better mood. You think more clearly and remember better. Your bones become stronger. Your body also responds better to insulin, which lowers your risk of diabetes, and you significantly reduce your risk for many cancers. All of that is in addition to the better-known weight and heart benefits of physical activity,” Plummer said.

In fact, according to Plummer, increasing your physical activity is probably easier than you think. “You do not need to buy expensive equipment or join a gym. You will begin to reap the rewards of physical activity almost as soon as you start. Adding small amounts of movement to your daily routine goes a long way,” she said.

Brisk walking, at a pace of at least a 20-minute mile, provides health benefits similar to running, and probably more social benefits. Plus, your risk of injury is much lower.

You can walk for free, with nothing more than comfortable shoes, from almost anywhere: your neighbourhood, your office, or standing in a queue. A 22-minute walk every day, or two 11-minute ones, would put you just over 150 minutes every week.

It is not cheating to break your 150 minutes a week into small increments. In fact, even for people who are physically fit and exercise every day, breaking up periods of sitting is critically important.

“Even if you are getting enough exercise, sitting for the rest of the day can undo the health benefits of your workout. If you are not yet ready to aim for 2.5 hours of brisk walking each week, reducing the time you spend sitting would be a great starting goal,” Plummer said.

One of the best ways to keep up with your efforts is to track your progress. You can do it with pen and paper in a journal, or in one of many smartphone apps. As you see yourself making progress, it can be easier to keep up the routine.

- K.H

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com

SOURCE: Ministry of Health and Wellness