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Salvage Your New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

Last year’s scientific discoveries provided 15 reasons to stick to this year’s resolutions.

Falls Church couple Monica Boland and Aaron Alford chronicle their return to a running lifestyle.

The third week of January is a critical time in the life of New Year’s fitness resolutions. For the first two weeks of January, gyms, pools and running paths are crowded with a sudden influx of strangers, the ‘resolver’ crowd. We’ve all been one! In years when we didn’t need to make fitness resolutions, we skipped the gym and the pool until mid-January. By then, the inevitable attrition begins to kick in. The crowds begin to thin back to the old familiar faces and by the middle of February the few remaining resolvers are becoming regulars. 

This year, we are a part of the resolver crowd and are fighting to stay on board the fitness (and more specifically, running) wagon. Larry, Aaron’s dad, is one of the resolvers this year, too. In a recent phone call, we traded old fitness facts like, “You don’t have to run a marathon every day, just running an hour a day and most days of the week will do the trick!” and “If you can’t run today, walk. That’s where most of the benefit is anyway!”  

In honor of resolvers everywhere, we decided to see if the science of 2011 added any new reasons to keep our running resolutions for 2012. This list applies to all resolvers, no matter your age or circumstances: 

1. Moderate exercise decreases your chances of catching respiratory infections. However, extreme exercise (i.e. running a marathon) can increase your chances of catching a respiratory infection. For winter running, keep your mileage within reasonable limits for the greatest protection against respiratory infections. 

2. Running or other moderate to vigorous exercise for 150 or more minutes increases sleep quality and reduces daytime drowsiness. It also reduces waking due to leg cramps. These findings are held regardless of depression or body mass index. 

3. A history of moderate physical activity is associated with lower risk factors for glaucoma, a degenerative eye disease. 

4. Exercising three times a week for 40 minutes has been shown to be as effective as the anti-migraine drug Topiramate in reducing migraines

5. Physical condition is one of the most important protective factors against metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. 

6. A small amount of running may insulate the elderly against memory loss due to infection. 

7. Regular exercise can improve the health of those with long-term kidney disease, even if they have undergone a kidney transplant. 

8. Physical activity may protect against dementia and reduce the rate at which it progresses. 

9. Small amounts of exercise at work (a walk or run during your lunch break) may result in increased productivity

10. Adding exercise to a depression treatment regimen may be as effective as adding a second anti-depressant medication.

11. The benefits of exercise are cumulative across your lifespan, so even if you have have lapsed for a while, it's worth getting out and putting some more exercise benefits in your fitness bank!  

12. A little exercise goes a long way! Your lifespan may be increased by no more than 15 minutes of light exercise every day. However, the more you exercise, the greater the reduction in risk for cardiovascular disease

13. No matter your age, exercise is an essential tool in maintaining mental capacity. 

14. Exercise may help manage anxiety and panic disorders

15. The children of mothers that exercise during pregnancy may have a lower risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

We hope that this list has motivated you to stick to your New Year's fitness resolution! 

Please feel free to e-mail us at monica.boland@gmail.com or sharkdoctor1@hotmail.com.

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