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New Year's Resolutions

As 2009 draws to a close, the promises of things to do differently in 2010 begin. Exercising is a popular New Year's resolution. But sticking with this goal can be challenging.

"People make this resolution with good intentions, but they go in with grand expectations," said Marlene DaCosta, MA, ACSM-RCEP, ACSM-HFS, Exercise Physiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess's Tanger Be Well Center. "Try to go in with a realistic picture."

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For example, your approach to fitness is everything. "Don't go into this saying that you will go to the gym five or six times a week," DaCosta said. "Be more realistic and build three visits a week into your schedule. If that sticks, then add more days if you can."

If you have not worked out in a while, setting lofty goals will not only be tough to keep, but could also lead to injury. DaCosta said the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of moderately intense cardio activity five times a week or 20 minutes of vigorously intense cardio activity three times a week, and strength training exercises twice a week to keep fit. So hitting the gym for hours on end is not necessary to remain healthy.

To some people even these guidelines may seem like a lot. However, a person's exercise program can be individually designed to maximize the most efficient use of one's time. Exercise can also be accumulated in short bouts throughout the day as well. For example, take the stairs instead of hopping on an elevator.

DaCosta recommends you approach setting aside time to workout like you would scheduling a meeting. Look at your calendar and see where in your week it is convenient for you to exercise. In addition to setting a doable timetable, be sure to pick activities that are fun and will motivate you to keep working out all year long. Gyms offer everything from group spinning to water aerobics to rock climbing, so choose a sport that you enjoy and will keep you wanting more.

The group class setting also helps some people stick with a routine. Like working out with a friend or a personal trainer, knowing you have a person or a class of people to meet at the gym will make you far less likely to skip a workout.

"Fitting regular exercise in on a regular basis is an accomplishment given how busy our lives can be," DaCosta said. "But it's an important commitment because you can't put a price on your health."

Contact Information

Tanger Be Well Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Shapiro Clinical Center
Ground Level
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-4695
617-975-5175