New Year, New Me: I want to exercise more

New Year, New Me: I want to exercise more
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 8:18 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s the first week of 2023 and for many of us, there’s a desire for a “New Year, New Me.”

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to get more exercise. As with most things we want to change about ourselves, it’s difficult, and heading into the gym at the New Year, it’s easy to feel out of shape and a little out of place. As with most goals, it’s best to start slow.

“Let’s not overwhelm ourselves,” Executive Director of Fitness Services for the Alaska Club Network Janet Warner said. “I’m not going to work out two hours every day, every day of the week. That’s just not realistic, right? But can I do three times a week? The days that I’m not working out officially, can I find some extra activity? Can I go for a walk around the block? Can I find 10 minutes in the day to walk around the office?”

Warner says first, figure out why you want to exercise. Is it to feel better, lose weight or get stronger?

“Then determine what action steps are going to get them to that goal,” Warner said. “And those action steps, also known as habits, are key to success. We want them to be doable.”

One challenge with starting an exercise program or even just moving more is, it’s difficult to see immediate changes.

“So you need to find those things that give you some immediate gratification so that you stick with it. And then over time, you see some of the benefits that you’re after,” Warner said. “So find your rewards. Maybe it’s ‘hey, I’ve got my three times in this week, I’m going to spend 10 minutes in the sauna and just enjoy it.’ Or ‘I’m going to go get a new workout outfit’ — that one works for me — or new shoes. Things that make me excited about coming back to the next one. So find little increments now that bring you joy.”

Warner says one way to help motivate yourself is to find something you like to do.

“As an example, some people feel like, ‘oh, I’m going to run, because I think that’s going to produce great weight loss,’ but they hate running, so everything is a chore,” Warner said. “Let’s find something you like to do. You know, let’s be open-minded, try a few things, something that will click if you are looking forward to it, you’re more likely going to do it.”

Warner also recommends trying something new.

“Join a friend for your workout, jump into a Zumba class, try something maybe you haven’t, because it might become your new favorite. One example could be pickleball. Pickleball is growing exponentially, and one of the key factors is it’s social. You get to chat with people, you get to have fun. And those times of being social and with our community are going to be more important now more than ever.”

She added it’s crucial to hold on to the fact that even if you’re not seeing immediate changes, change is happening.

“Just from one bout of exercise, your brain function improves, your ability to process even, like if you have a big project coming up, get that workout in because it’s going to help you tackle that mental challenge,” Warner said. “Sleeping better — even one bout of physical activity, you will sleep better and so many people struggle in this area.”

Warner says after the past few years when the community has been deep in the COVID-19 pandemic, people are craving that connection with others, and maybe now is a good time to make a change.

“We’ve spent a lot of time recently of ‘it’s okay to not be okay,’” Warner said. “Now more than ever, it’s okay to work on being better than okay, to improve on our well-being.”

Making a resolution to move more might be the first step.

An extended interview with Janet Warner is available on Alaska’s News Source’s In Depth Alaska podcast.