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Routine is key for fitness resolutions in new year

Consistency is key to meeting your health and fitness resolutions for the new year, according to experts with ties to BGSU.

Resolutions tempt too many people to adopt an overly ambitious fitness program, which may lead to "mental burnout," according to Rob Schwartz '00, a strength and conditioning coach for the United States Olympic Committee.

"Keep it simple," said Schwartz. "The biggest battle is with your own consistency."

Schwartz trains athletes ranging in age from 12 to 41 in combat and acrobatic sports - including swimming, gymnastics and boxing - and has helped at least 30 Olympians to capture medals this summer games. After earning his bachelor's degree in education and kinesiology, Schwartz assisted the strength coaches for Falcon football.

The most common and dangerous mistake for first-time gym goers is choosing a workout that is too strenuous or boring. Workout newbies should take a cue from Olympians by adopting goals related to longevity and lifelong fitness rather than short-term weight loss or strength building.

Just 20 minutes of daily physical activity may be enough to establish an exercise routine, Schwartz observed. He recommends allowing yourself several weeks or months to expand your workouts into a longer or more vigorous routine.

"I don't need to give you an athlete's program. I want you to keep coming back hungry," Schwartz said.

Following through and maintaining a routine are the most important aspects of your new fitness plan, suggested Karyn Smith, health educator for the BGSU Department of Recreation and Wellness. She manages fitness classes offered through the BGSU Student Recreation Center.

"The question I get a lot is, 'What's the best exercise?' or 'What is most effective: cardio or strength training?' And my answer is always that the best exercise is a consistent one, and one you enjoy doing," Smith said.

A new year can be a great time to experiment with new fitness classes or strength training methods, so that you can update your routine with the exercises you may most enjoy. The BGSU Student Recreation Center recently added several new fitness courses, including BODYPUMP, a strength training routine choreographed to music, and TRX Suspension Training, a workout that uses your own body weight to strengthen your core. Both can be tailored to any fitness or strength level. BGSU employees are also offered free fitness classes twice a week through the Wellness Connection program, which will included Zumba, a Latin dance-inspired workout, and PiYo, a workout that combines pilates and yoga.

"Exercise gives some people such a negative feeling and dread. You are never going to make time for something that you see as a chore," Smith said. "When you go shoe shopping, you try a variety of things out to see what's the best fit for you. It's important to find something you enjoy doing."

Scheduling your workout as "an important appointment" is another way to sustain a new fitness routine, Smith added. Shorter, more frequent workouts decrease the risk of burnout.

"Get rid of all or nothing thinking," she said. "Research shows that working out for 10 minutes is just as effective. Do something to elevate your heart rate… there are a lot of things you can do and you don't have to break into a hardcore sweat."

 (Posted January 2, 2013 )