Your once hopeful New Year's resolution to exercise more may be starting to fade. Yet the motivation that summer's impending swimsuit season brings may still feel months away. How do you stay committed to exercising and not get stuck in a rut?
"Working out does not necessarily have to include going to the gym," says Amy Holtsclaw, a clinical exercise physiologist for St. Luke's Hospital. "Nontraditional forms of exercise can be just as beneficial – and fun, too."
The key to sticking to an exercise regimen is finding a form of exercise that you also enjoy. Below are some tips on how to go about it:
• Look around you – are there activities that you've seen others doing that you've always wanted to try? What about ice skating, yoga, mall walking or swimming?
• Have you read about any classes that spark your interest? St. Luke's Hospital offers T'ai Chi, many levels of yoga, fitness classes for expectant and new mothers, and more. Plus, St. Louis has a wide variety of fitness and recreation centers that offer classes for any interest and skill level.
• Supplement dance classes or other forms of aerobic exercise with at-home exercises. Stretching, toning and relaxation videos can provide you with options to keep your workouts interesting. Incorporate light hand-weights into your exercise program to build muscle. Exercise balls also provide a variety of exercises for strength and flexibility – they come with their own instructional video and can be found at most retail stores. So, turn on your favorite music and get motivated.
• Get active any way you can. Play with your kids or grandkids, forgo the elevator for stairs, vacuum the living room and move the furniture around (just remember to lift with your legs and not your back), steal a few short breaks to stretch throughout the workday or during TV commercials. Just get moving.
• Talk to your doctor. He or she can probably help guide you toward creative ways to accomplish exercise goals that work with your body, fitness level and expectations – and provide important medical guidance as you embark on new activities.
"It's so important for us all to find ways to get moving on a regular basis," says Holtsclaw. "Most think of exercise only for weight control, but it has so many other positive benefits." She explains that exercise can lower blood pressure, boost your mood, offer social interaction, increase energy levels and even help relieve arthritis pain in joints.
Look forward to the summer by finding an exercise regime that fits with your lifestyle. For a list of exercise and fitness classes offered at St. Luke's, including personal training and weight management programs, visit the St. Luke's website.
St. Luke's Hospital is a regional healthcare provider committed to improving the quality of life for patients and the community. It offers care in more than 60 specialty areas and was the only St. Louis hospital named an America's 50 Best Hospital™ by Healthgrades® in 2007 through 2013 based on quality.