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Winter Fitness Tips

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Winter Fitness Tips

Here are my thoughts on New Year’s resolutions and fitness which were recently published in the Greater Newburyport Mothers and Families Club newsletter.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am writing this article in late November. And, truth be told, I am already sick of the cold, gray and wet weather. Perhaps that’s good news, since January skies tend to be brighter and the daylight lasts longer. With proper preparation for the cold, you and your children should have more time to hike, sled, skate, ski or just play in the snow. These are all fun ways to get some exercise and burn off some of those extra holiday calories.

One of the downsides of January is the pressure we put on ourselves to keep New Year’s resolutions. This is especially true for health and fitness. The desire to change is real and often stems from the excesses of holiday parties and family gatherings. But the reality is that our timelines to lose weight, build muscle etc. don’t match the time it took us to get into the shape we’re resolving to improve. Add inaccurate fitness information with unrealistic expectations for the way a woman “should” look and you have a recipe for disaster.

The most common fitness resolution is to join a gym and get there more often. Gym owners are aware that while the number of people buying memberships will swell in January, less than twenty percent will use them consistently. Industry statistics from 2012 show that 80% of people who joined in January quit within 5 months. And a higher percentage of those dropouts tended to be women. It might make more sense to wait until February to sign up but make sure that you will be receiving an individualized program based on your goals, health concerns and injury history.

Whether you decide to start exercising outside or in the gym this winter, start with achievable and measurable steps. If you’re looking to participate in outdoor winter activities be realistic about the amount of time you can allot. Try being outdoors for 30 minutes hiking, skiing, sledding or skating twice a week. From there you can easily lengthen the time or add another day of activity. The same is true for going to and working out at the gym.

Here are some common pitfalls women face when they consider weight training to achieve their goals:

  • “Women should only lift lighter weights for more repetitions to avoid bulking up.” Building muscle mass is tied to testosterone, a hormone which women have less of than men.
  • “Women aren’t as strong as men.” Strength comes from creating more efficient nerve to muscle connections and is based on the type and intensity of your training. Women are capable of building strength equal to men based on their body weight. This is called relative strength.
  • “Stick to exercises you know and like.” While you don’t want to attempt new exercises without instruction, the movements we avoid are often the things we most need to do, if performed properly.

Use these general guidelines to get started but consider contacting a trained fitness professional. I work with many women of various ages and focus on their specific training needs, whether working on gaining strength and flexibility or rebuilding muscle postpartum.

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