Creating a Plan
by John Douthitt
General Manager – Mission Fitness at the MCH Center for Health & Wellness
How many times have you started a new workout program in January only to fall off the exercise wagon by the end of February? It happens to a lot of people when goals are unrealistic or plans aren’t well thought out and organized. Get focused this year and use these tips to create a workout plan that you can stick to through the tough first few weeks.
Create a Weekly Schedule: Long term goals are great, but it is also important to break these down into weekly expectations. Write down a weekly workout plan and schedule it on your calendar like any other appointment or meeting and keep it! When planning your workouts, remember that the Center for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week. Split that into sessions that fit your schedule. You could choose five, thirty minute sessions, or maybe 15 minutes Monday through Thursday and an hour on Saturdays and Sundays. The choice is yours just pick a plan that works for you. Add in two strength sessions per week and you will be meeting the exercise requirements for a healthy body.
Record Your Exercise: Tracking your workout sessions and progress will increase your motivation to stick to your new schedule. Log your workouts on any number of new apps for your Smartphone or just use good old pen and paper. Either option will hold you accountable and allow you to follow your progress.
Try a Group Exercise Class: Group classes are ideal because there is usually something for everyone and this is a great way to make you friends. The social aspect of working out helps people acclimate to a class, helps you meet new friends and can provide you with an accountability partner. Add a class once or twice a week to cross train and add variety to your program. Plus, on those days when you don’t feel like creating your own workout, you can just show up and follow the guidance of a group fitness instructor.
Increase Intensity Over Time: One of the biggest mistakes many people make in starting up a new exercise program is jumping back into exercise at the level and intensity you were able to maintain years ago. This is a common reason many people do not stick to their plan. Don’t jump on a stationary bike, for example, and go full tilt with a difficult preprogrammed workout, or decide to bench press the same amount of weight you did ten years ago. Doing more than you are ready for might make you throw in the towel. Hop on a treadmill, elliptical trainer or other equipment and work up to the intensity that is right for you. As your strength and endurance improves, you can increase your speed, intensity, duration and resistance and achieve those goals that always seemed unattainable.