American Chiropractic Association via Newswise – Arlington, VA — A new year means many people are making resolutions to get healthier and lose weight. While moving toward better health usually involves more physical activity, many have found themselves moving far less than usual because of working from home and other lifestyle changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), there are simple strategies that can help you make the transition from a body at rest to a body in motion.
“Brief periods of inactivity usually aren’t that big of a deal,” says Matthew DiMond, DC, DACRB, EMT, a member of the ACA Council on Physiological Therapeutics and Rehabilitation. “However, long-standing inactivity will lead to more fatigue, tiredness, and lethargy. Depending on where you are in the lifespan, muscle fiber types can start to change, and that can be detrimental. In the elderly, less movement and decreasing load demands can have a negative impact on their quality of compact bone.”
So, if you have been less than active the past year or two, consider the following strategies to help you get moving again:
- Just Start Moving. “First and foremost, you just have to start doing anything. Whatever it is that you’re willing to do,” Dr. Dimond says. Find an exercise routine that’s right for you. “It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you’re starting somewhere and you’re doing it. Make it fun.”
- Be Consistent. After getting started, the most important thing is consistency. “The human body—and the human mind for that matter—like normalcy,” Dr. DiMond explains. “Wherever you currently are is what your body likes to do. The initial effort can be monumental; being consistent with it will create a habit.”
- Be Accountable. Consider finding an exercise partner or activities that involve other people. Such connections can often inspire, drive, and motivate people to focus on their health goals and move forward.
- Be Safe. When starting to move again after being inactive, assume that your capacity for activity will be diminished. Be aware of your limits and focus on what works for you, rather than comparing yourself to others or to your previous fitness level. Also be mindful of any pain you experience. “You know your body,” Dr. DiMond says. “Pain is a good thing; it tells us that something is starting to be wrong. Not that you necessarily need to change, but you probably went a little too far. Back off and make sure that whatever it is you’re doing, you’re doing it at a comfortable level.”
- Identify Your Motivation. Motivation can be a challenge for people who start to move after a period of inactivity. “Willpower is not enough,” Dr. DiMond says. He encourages people to define their goals in terms of “what” instead of “why.” Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish and create metrics based on that goal. Do you want to run a 5K? Do you want to walk your dog every day or be able to pick up your grandchild? Determine your “what” and set metrics to achieve it.
Determining your motivation and taking a safe, consistent approach to moving more will help you get closer to your health and fitness goals, but most importantly just get started.
Talk to a doctor of chiropractic before starting a new fitness regimen. Chiropractors offer a patient-centered, nondrug approach to pain relief, increasing function and enhancing health and wellness—including advice on exercise and injury prevention. For more health and wellness information, or to find a chiropractor near you, visit ACA online at www.HandsDownBetter.org.
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