9 Ways to Stay Healthy and Active in the New Year

There’s no time like the start of a brand new year to make fitness your top priority in life. Now that the holidays are over, so are all the parties and elaborate dinners that can make it tough to stay on track. You’ve just hung a brand new calendar on the wall. It’s officially time to get cracking when it comes to filling it with wholesome, productive activities that will make you better than you are right now by this same time next year.

Even so, you’ve got to start somewhere when it comes to becoming the best possible version of yourself, right? Keep the following tips in mind as you move forward into 2018, and you’ll definitely be on the right track.

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PLAN AHEAD.

It’s one thing to say you want to be more active in the year to come. It’s another to actually accomplish that. It takes time and effort to cultivate a new habit, especially if it involves making drastic changes to your existing routine. It also takes a solid plan that you follow to the letter right from day one.

Start by deciding exactly what you’re looking to accomplish. Are you hoping to lose weight? Do you want to be stronger? Are you looking to make good on all those promises to your doctor that you’ll finally start getting your recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week? Then decide what activities you plan on doing to reach those goals and how often.

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Be realistic as far as what you hope to accomplish and by when. Also be honest with yourself as far as how many workouts you can handle in a week and on which days. Then add your workouts to your day planner or your calendar the same as you would with anything else you absolutely must get done. Scheduling your workouts helps them feel as official and important as anything else on your agenda, making you a lot less likely to skip them.

 

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BE PREPARED WITH THE RIGHT GEAR AND EQUIPMENT.

If you’re serious about staying more active this year, one of the first things you’ll want to do is seal the deal by investing in the right tools for the job. Take your workout clothing, for example. Reaching for the same old ratty t-shirt, sweatpants, and tennis shoes you wear to do chores around the house could mean setting yourself up for failure right out of the gate.

The very act of shopping for, buying, and wearing the correct athletic clothing for your workout of choice makes a huge difference in your confidence level. When we look the part, we’re that much more likely to act the part and follow through in all the right ways. Wearing the right clothing also improves your performance—so, yes. It is worth it to buy those running shoes if you’re serious about qualifying for that marathon someday.

You may also want to finally build that home gym this year. When the nearest elliptical machine, dumbbell pair, or treadmill is literally right there in the next room, it becomes a lot easier to stick with your workouts when the weather is bad or when life gets really hectic.

 

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SEIZE EVERY OPPORTUNITY.

It’s important to realize that an active lifestyle shouldn’t start and stop at sticking to your pre-planned workout schedule. Active people simply think differently than the rest of us do. They’re always on the lookout for additional opportunities to get up, get out, and get moving. Trust us when we say there are a lot of them out there. The more of them you seize, the better you’ll do when it comes to keeping your fitness-related New Year’s resolutions.

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  • Never underestimate the fitness potential of a quiet house first thing in the morning, especially if you’re a busy parent. Try getting up before everyone else and starting your day with a 20-30 minute workout of your choice.

  • Add some fitness value to your TV time by watching your favorite shows from your treadmill or the seat of your stationary bike. Alternatively, challenge yourself to do as many jumping jacks, sit-ups, or push-ups as you can during the commercial breaks.

  • Keep portable fitness equipment like resistance bands or jump ropes in your car, office, or purse and put them to good use whenever you catch yourself with a few extra minutes to kill.

 

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EXPLORE THE POTENTIAL OF “UNOFFICIAL” FITNESS ACTIVITIES.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking staying active is something that only happens when you’re doing a widely recognized form of exercise. Yes, adding a morning jog, some strength training, or some yoga to your weekly routine is excellent and definitely recommended. However, anything that gets you up out of your easy chair and moving totally counts. The following options are just a few examples:

  • Sure, keeping that walkway clear of snow is necessary, but did you know it’s also excellent exercise? Just 30 minutes of shoveling snow can burn through up to 223 calories.

  • Have you always wanted to take up ballroom dancing or salsa? You might want to make 2018 the year you officially slip into your boogie shoes. Dancing isn’t just great exercise that uses all the muscles in your body. It’s been medically proven to lower your risk of dementia as well.

  • Do you absolutely love getting up close and personal with Mother Nature while hiking? That counts as an activity as well. It’s also a fantastic activity to engage in even in the winter time.

If you love to take leisurely walks or putter around the house performing little tasks, you should know that’s also exercise. Consider investing in a fitness tracker to help you get a better grasp on just how much activity you’re really getting each day.

 

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DON’T FORGET ABOUT NUTRITION.

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When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, staying active enough is only part of the equation. The other half is all about eating and drinking mindfully. You wouldn’t expect your car to run very well for very long unless you provided it with enough good-quality fuel, right? You can’t expect it of your body either, so make sure nutrition is part of your long-term plan to stay fit.

  • Sticking to a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

  • When you eat a balanced diet of lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and plenty of fresh produce, you drastically lower your risk of developing certain diseases. Examples include but are not limited to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and hypertension.

  • When you eat healthfully and mindfully, you’ll just feel better overall. You’ll get more out of your workouts, you’ll be more productive at work, and your moods will improve, to name just a few of the benefits.

 

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WHEN IN DOUBT, HIIT IT.

As nice as it would be to be able to put fitness first 100% of the time, there are bound to be days when things just don’t go as planned. You might have to work late or the babysitter will cancel on you at the last minute. Alternatively, a freak snowstorm or a family emergency could interfere with your plans to go hard at the gym all afternoon or stop you from enjoying your evening run as planned.

Those are the days to HIIT it! HIIT (short for high-intensity interval training) is the way to get the maximum possible benefit out of whatever time you can spend working out. If you do it right, a mere 15 minutes of HIIT is capable of burning more calories than an hour spent jogging on a treadmill. Definitely an incentive to just HIIT it instead of deciding to skip a workout altogether because you can’t put in the full 30-60 minutes you’d planned on.

The extra boost HIIT delivers to your metabolism adds up to a mean afterburn effect as well. After a standard workout, your metabolism stays elevated for about 90 minutes after you’ve stopped exercising. After a HIIT workout, that time is extended to 144 minutes instead. How’s that for effective?

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EMBRACE THE BENEFITS OF STRESS MANAGEMENT.

Inactivity isn’t the only factor you have to worry about when it comes to your general health and wellbeing. Stress can be just as dangerous, so it’s important to make sure your ongoing quest to be fitter and healthier includes a stress management strategy.

Mindfully reducing the amount of stress in your life won’t just leave you feeling more relaxed and less moody in general. Your immune function will improve, meaning you’ll get sick less often and develop fewer physical issues. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, and have an easier time digesting your food. You’ll become more focused and more productive as well, so—yes. Taking that day off or vacation from work as planned not only won’t set you back. It’ll make you better at your job.

You’ll be even more pleased to know that stress management and exercise go hand in hand. Even a few minutes of exercise a day helps boost your body’s endorphin production, leading to better moods and a greater sense of well-being overall. Exercise has been proven effective at managing depression and anxiety as well. Just one more reason to keep that standing appointment with the cardio room at the gym!

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OFFER TO COOK AND PREPARE HEALTHY MEALS FOR YOUR HOUSEHOLD.

As touched on above, a balanced diet populated by wholesome, healthful foods is an absolute must when it comes to getting healthy and staying that way. You can’t give your workouts your absolute all without plenty of good quality fuel in the engine, right? However, knowing you could stand to eat healthier is one thing. Making good on those intentions is another.

If you’re like most people, it can be a serious challenge to find the time to prep and cook the healthy meals you know you should be eating, but it’s not impossible. You just need to get organized and plan ahead as far as shopping and cooking go.

Choose one day each week to sit down and plan all of your household’s meals in advance. Make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need, hit the store, and buy all of it at once. Then pick another day to prepare several of those meals in advance so they only require a quick spin through the microwave before they’re ready. (You can do the same with lunches and breakfasts, as well, if you wish.) When heating up a fresh, wholesome, healthy option is just as easy as microwaving yet another frozen burrito or ordering pizza, it’s that much easier to make the right choice.

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DECIDE HOW YOU’LL STAY MOTIVATED ALL YEAR LONG.

Did you know that a jaw-dropping 92% of all New Year’s resolutions never come to fruition? That means only 8% of all the millions of people who resolve to change something about their lives for the better succeed in doing it. So, what makes that 8% different from all the others? What do they know that the vast majority of humanity apparently doesn’t?

Some of it has to do with understanding how important it is to make realistic resolutions in the first place, as well as concrete plans for following through. The rest of it is all about motivation. Far too many people decide they want to change themselves or their lives to please someone else—their partner, perhaps, or maybe a parent, a friend, or just society in general. Statistically speaking, people have a hard time following through on goals that are set for any other reason than a genuine desire to accomplish them.

That said, make sure you’re focusing on how getting healthy and staying active will make your life better for you. You’ll also want to make sure you’re keeping things fun. Choose activities you truly love to do. Shop for, prepare, and serve healthy foods that you really enjoy eating. Also, remember to reward yourself for reaching various milestones. (You deserve it!) The rest has a way of taking care of itself. Give it a try and see for yourself!