Summer in Wisconsin comes on quick and exits just as quickly. With it sometimes comes with the hope to be more active outside, feel better when completing an activity, or simply wanting more confidence to accomplish a task or outdoor activity. As we age, it becomes easier to get stuck in a rut or feel overwhelmed by the thought of making some lifestyle changes. Here are some ideas to simplify the journey towards “successful aging” and establish a foundation for success.
- Begin with small changes. Whatever your current fitness level is, keep your goals reasonable and attainable. A little extra can go a long way. If you currently are quite sedentary, a gentle walking program would be a perfect start. If you visit the gym often, get involved in a new class, try different equipment, or add an additional element to your workout.
- Discover what works for you. Work with your doctor, a personal trainer, or another professional to make an informed decision on what would work best for you. Certain health considerations are important to identify when deciding what changes and/or additions should be made to your current program. As a person matures, health conditions may dictate the best exercise programming for you. Common conditions to evaluate are: heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, postural changes, past injuries and/or surgeries, balance issues, among others.
- Go slow and be patient. The concept of weekend warrior is overrated. A gradual approach will build a solid foundation of health, fitness and wellness. As your mind and body slowly builds strength, balance and flexibility, great gains can be made in the long run.
- Track improvements. Starting with your first day towards healthier living, make note of your baseline measurements. If better dietary intake is your goal, use a food journal to track fruits, vegetables, protein and calories. If increased aerobic capacity is top on your list, track type of activity, your heart rate response and activity workload. If improvement in flexibility is a goal, track your range of motion during active stretching and if daily activities seem easier due to stretching in your workout. Strength gains can be easily tracked by taking note of the number of sets and repetitions at different workloads.
- Get family and friends involved. A big key to success in accomplishing your health goals is to involve others. It can be challenging to continually stay on task in making changes, so the more support and involvement you have from those close to you will only enhance your journey.
A healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be intimidating or too time consuming. Identifying baselines, setting goals and personalizing an action plan will make the journey more effective and enjoyable – in all the seasons we enjoy.