So many people this time of the year make a commitment to improve their health. One of the primary ways people do this is to promise themselves that they will start an exercise program.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that less than one in every four adults in this country gets the recommended amount of exercise to maintain their health and prevent chronic disease. Many people are so well meaning when they make that commitment to improve their health by exercising. Life somehow though just gets in the way. The act of going to the gym can be daunting for some people. How do they work it into their schedule? How do they care for the kids and make that gym class? In this time of COVID-19, how do they assure their own health?
In a recent study, researchers found that sometimes little rewards such as small amounts of money given as incentives on a card that exercise participants could later spend helped. Also deemed helpful were text messages received by the exercise participants which reminded them of their upcoming fitness class. The incentives and texts helped increase the number of gym visits by a mere 9 to 27 percent. Any improvement is important, but the yield here was minimal.
So, what other programs could help in increasing the number of visits to the gym or in just exercising? One idea is to have an exercise accountability friend. That friend maybe someone that you actually exercise with or someone you report to about your activities. Someone else checking in on your activities is a help.
Another way to increase one’s exercise accountability is by setting goals with a group and use rewards as an incentive to reach those goals. The ease at which the exercise can be done is also particularly important. If going to a gym, is it close to your job or home. If you must drive out of the way to get there, it may be difficult to continue your exercise plan.
Do you enjoy the activity of exercising? It has been known for a long time that if you enjoy the activity you are participating in the greater the chances you will continue to exercise. So, find an exercise activity that you enjoy or enjoy the people with whom you are exercising.
Try to make your exercise regimen easy for you to engage and participate. An exercise routine that is home based is king for many. Here it is readily accessible and if also enjoyable, it’s a winning combination. Home gyms are popular, as are videos of exercise routines. They can be done at any time.
The final suggestion is to make sure that you understand how important exercise is for your health. You are indeed worth the commitment to your own health. The benefits of feeling better, moving better, living longer and even looking better are the ultimate rewards.
Now go out there and exercise.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at email@example.com.
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