Many of us have a goal this year to get more fit. If you go by fitness centers in January, the parking lots are full, but February…not so much. We need to find a way to increase physical activity in a way that will become a habit and be enjoyable!
Number one: don’t be glued to that number on the scale. Do not weigh yourself every day. As you get more fit, muscle may develop and it weighs more than fat. Pay more attention to how your clothes fit. That is a better clue as to how you’re doing!
It matters more to do something rather than what you planned to do. Advice will come from all sides. “Swimming is best. Get a Peloton. You must run to get fit!” They mean well, but you must find what is best for you, something that you will do and keep doing and have fun. The CDC recommends 150 minutes per week in some moderate-intensity aerobic activity. This can be as much as brisk walking or biking. Then add twice weekly muscle strengthening sessions. Light weights or resistance bands can work here. Try to increase your reps and times for better fitness.
There is a relatively new approach to fitness called HIIT. It involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of low intensity exercise or rest. It works, but be aware that if you choose a high intensity exercise like sprinting you might overwork. Try more body weight exercise like squats and step ups to avoid exhaustion and injury. 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for each, followed by a 2-minute rest, 5-10 rounds. In a 2011 study just three 20 minute HIIT workouts per week improved metabolism, body composition, and cardio fitness.
Above all, listen to your body. As we age, we walk a fine line between pushing enough and pushing too far. You might want to replace running with rucking (walking with a weighted pack). It could also be beneficial to hook up with a personal trainer to gauge a safe workout for you. It’s worth the money for a few sessions to see what you can do safely. Make sure to get out and do something for a fitter 2023!
Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago