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Health in the New Year

The start of any year is typically marked with well-intentioned goals to set the optimistic tone for the rest of the year. Some goals are maintained throughout the year while others don’t make it more than a few months. Setting yourself up for success is crucial since resolutions are often abandoned when expectations are not met.

Beyond burning calories

Not surprisingly, January is the most popular month for gym memberships. Many people set a huge weight loss goal at the start of the year and then lose interest if they don’t see the results they had imagined when making the resolution. But, according to fitness experts, regular exercise has more health benefits to offer beyond burning calories. So even if you don’t see the weight loss you had hoped for, it is important to remind yourself that you are still reaping health benefits.

Health benefits

The CDC credits regular exercise with many benefits: decreased anxiety and depression, sharper thinking, higher quality of sleep, and stronger muscles and bones. In fact, studies have shown the first results people can see when regularly exercising is an improvement in mental health and sleep quality. Exercise also reduces the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, along with cancers of the colon, breast, and other organs.

How to achieve health benefits

The length and intensity level of exercise varies from person to person. Some prefer moderate activities whilst others enjoy vigorous exercises. For optimal benefits, adults who prefer moderate intensity should exercise about 150-300 minutes a week.  Adults who prefer high intensity workouts should exercise 75-150 minutes. For those who like to mix it up and alternate between the two, an average of 150 minutes per week should yield results.

For those just starting to exercise, walking may be the place to start.  Exercise doesn’t need to be grueling to be effective. When walking at least 7,000 steps a day, middle-aged people were 50-70 percent less likely to die of heart disease or cancer.

The commitment to regular exercise should be about getting healthy.  Weight loss can occur as a result of a consistent workout routine but don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Putting the spotlight on becoming a healthier version of yourself shifts your expectations and allows you to celebrate the other benefits of your healthy choices.