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Start the Year Off Right with a Commitment to Health

by ACSM January 16, 2013

A newfound - or renewed - commitment to health is a common sentiment each year after the holiday season of sweet treats, calorie-laden cocktails and scarce free time to stick to a fitness routine. Year after year, many people resolve to lose weight, get fit and be healthier, using the turn of a new year as motivation to turn over a new leaf. Many resolutions, made with the best of intentions, are broken almost before the New Year's Eve confetti is cleaned up, and few last until spring.

The keys to lifelong healthy habits include:

  • Setting realistic expectations, based on a knowledge of the facts and of your own goals, motivation and lifestyle
  • Building physical activity into your daily life and following healthy eating habits
  • Understanding that you will have lapses, plateaus and changes of circumstance that need not derail your overall progress
  • Knowing where to turn for factual information and personal support

Enjoyable alternatives offer healthy activity

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes (or 2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. If you're not currently physically active, this might be a great time to return to an activity you loved in the past or to get involved with a team sport. Not competitive? Don't like to run? A dance-based fitness class or yoga might be for you. Don't forget that consulting a certified trainer, exercise physiologist, or medical professional is always an important step before starting a new fitness program.

Cost need not be a concern

Financial constraints also weigh heavy on the minds of many as the new year begins. However, being healthy and fit doesn't require an expensive investment. Body weight training, or exercise that uses the body as resistance instead of equipment, was the most upwardly mobile activity on ACSM's 2013 fitness trends forecast. Body weight training can be done anywhere, including at home, and doesn't require a financial investment.

Beyond being buff - staying healthy throughout life

A desire to be fit isn't all about vanity. The most common diseases plaguing our world today are diseases caused by sedentary lifestyle - like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, among others. Our daily lives are becoming increasingly scheduled around sitting: sitting at work, sitting in the car during long commutes, and sitting in the evening in front of the television. Committing to a healthy lifestyle not only can help you look good and feel good, but can keep the doctor away too.

For further reading on this topic, visit: "New Year, New Fitness Habits."

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