Make exercise a routine (Yes, you can!)

You can make time for fitness!

New Year’s Day is my favorite day of the year.

Although any day is a good day to begin something new, there’s something special about Jan. 1. It’s so fresh and loaded with promise, like a baby’s first cry or an unopened box of crayons.

Ah, new year, the plans I have for you — plans to get more organized at home, spend less and save more, get healthier and lose weight … plans, plans, plans.

So how can I ensure my well-intentioned plans and goals are achieved, especially those related to exercise?

A hospital chaplain who uses an activity tracker recently told me that taking her dog for a walk around the block in her neighborhood takes about 2,200 steps. On days when the weather is nice, and time permits, she enjoys walking the two miles from her home to the hospital. On those days it’s easy to log in 10,000 steps or more, but on other days it can be challenging to reach her daily steps goal. The important thing is that she doesn’t beat herself up and just quit trying. Every day is a new day to try again.

A friend and co-worker used to walk at lunchtime, but that routine no longer works for her. Now, she and her teenage daughter are working out together as soon as they get home in the evening. They mix up their routine. Some days they use a workout video or small hand weights at home, and other days they walk outside for 20 to 30 minutes. They both gear up for exercise by laying out their exercise clothes the evening before. They encourage one another and motivate each other not to make excuses. Instead of seven days a week, they realistically aim for four — Monday through Thursday. It’s a work in progress, but they are progressing together.

For me, I’ve discovered that it’s easier to stick with exercise if I commit to 30 minutes on my elliptical machine first thing in the morning — 5 to 5:30 a.m. I like to read at the same time, which makes the time fly by. If I miss a morning, I try to catch up that evening. On really cold days, I might walk circles inside the house. I’ve even learned to walk and read, or enjoy a movie on the Hallmark channel, while I am circling through the foyer, dining room, kitchen and family room, over and over again. In the spring, summer and fall, I enjoy participating in charity walks. I’d walk an organized 5k every day if I could. There’s something incredibly energizing about walking for a common cause with hundreds or thousands of other walkers and runners.

As I tell myself, “You can pull only one weed at a time.” Don’t try to accomplish all your goals simultaneously. Start small and build on each success. Before you know it, you’ll be setting new goals and making new plans for another new year.

For details about Norton Healthcare’s Get Healthy Walking Club or to join this free club, call (502) 629-1234. Also, make plans to participate in Norton Children’s Hospital’s Splash ‘n’ Dash 5k race, Saturday, Aug. 1, in Seneca Park, 3151 Pee Wee Reese Road, Louisville, Kentucky. The race begins at 9 a.m. and concludes with family-friendly activities — face painting, water balloon toss and more — in the “Just for Kids” Zone.


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