Ask The Doctor

Exercising More and Keeping Resolutions

Dear Dr. Garner,
It’s only a week into 2015 and I already broke my New Year’s resolution! I planned to spend more time exercising. I was great the first couple of days but I have already slacked off.

Are there any tips or words of encouragement you can give me to succeed?

Resolution Reversed in Richmond Hill

Dear Resolution Reversed,
Happy New Year and welcome to the club of broken resolutions!

It is easy to come up with a good resolution. The tough part is sticking to it. Your resolution is one of the most popular, and gyms see a big surge of customers at this time of year as people strive to keep their resolutions. By February, things are usually back to normal with the resolution all but a forgotten memory.

Resolutions are generally difficult to keep because they are unrealistic. Often, it is so demanding that people decide that it is time to throw the towel in after a few days.

The 10 most-likely-to-be-broken New Year’s resolutions are:

1. To exercise
2. Stop smoking
3. Save money
4. Spend more time with family
5. Do volunteer work
6. Don’t let little things bother us
7. Eat better
8. Not yell at our spouse
9. Spend less money
10. Watch less TV

About 75 percent of people will stick to their resolutions for about a week. It’s the next few weeks that are the tough ones. To be successful it is important to focus on one resolution. Choose one which would make the biggest difference in your life.

Simple Steps
Your resolution was to get in better shape. This does not mean that you have to go to the gym every day or even at all. Exercising can be accomplished at home with normal house chores. Walk to the store instead of taking the car and also use the steps instead of an elevator.

It is important to understand that exercising is not a good way to lose weight. A good way to lose weight is by eating fewer calories. Many people are unaware that exercise alone is not a good way to lose weight and when they don’t see the change in the scale, they become discouraged and stop.

Studies show that those who are most successful at keeping their New Year’s resolutions have written a plan with a method. Seek social support. Treat yourself to a reward. Working out with someone is important and you are less likely to discontinue the program if you have a work-out buddy. It is important to keep the benefits in mind. Examples would be having a healthy lifestyle and having more quality time with the family.

One reason that New Year’s resolutions don’t succeed is that people feel it is not worth the effort. Keeping your goal in mind can keep you going.

I suggest you get a pedometer to track how many steps you take throughout the day. This can help keep your mind on the goal of exercising and give you feedback.

In summary, here are some tips:

1. Always discuss an exercise program with your doctor to make sure it’s right for you.
2. Do not join a gym.
3. Use everyday activities that you will follow and keep a diary to track your progress. One method is taking the stairs instead of the elevator. While it seems like a small concession, it can improve your physical fitness a great deal.
4. Walk at least one mile each day (use your pedometer). This amount of time is not severe and very do-able.
5. Do cleaning and chores for a half hour each day. Take phone calls while standing as sitting is linked to cancer and a heart attack.

It is important to remember that there is nothing magical about Jan. 1, however, it can serve as an incentive, as a new beginning. Choose resolutions that are obtainable and don’t be too hard on yourself if failure occurs. Remember also that every day can be a new beginning.

Dr. Garner is a Fidelis Care provider who is affiliated with New York Methodist Hospital, Park Slope. He also hosts “Ask the Doctor” on NET TV, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Time Warner Channel 97, Cablevision Channel 30 and Verizon FiOS on Demand.