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Fitness

Fitness That Fits

Find the Workout That Works for You

One hundred fifty minutes per week. That’s 30 minutes per weekday, or 50 minutes three days a week. That’s the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommendation for the amount of weekly exercise adults should get to reduce the risk of chronic disease.

If you’ve fallen out of touch with fitness, you know that it’s often easier to find the minutes than the motivation. Here are a few easy ways to reinvigorate your workout routine.

Put the “I” in “Fit”

Your body, health history and lifestyle are unique. Your fitness routine should be too. Look in the mirror — not around the gym — when committing to a workout plan. Before you tie your shoes, answer these questions honestly:

  • What do I want to get out of exercise?
  • Are you toning up for your wedding, or are you concerned about your heart health? Honestly assess your motivation for working out, and use this information to set specific goals.

  • What physical activities do I enjoy?
  • Workout trends like cardio dance classes or combat sports, and exercise fusions like yoga with weights or running and weight training, allow you to find a workout at the intersection of challenging and fun. Figure out how you like to move your body — then move it!

If you’re looking for guidance, work with a fitness specialist or athletic trainer to define your relationship with exercise.

“A licensed athletic trainer or physical therapist with performance enhancement or strength and conditioning certifications can help you create the right fitness plan for your personal needs,” says Jim Beitzel, ATC, PES, Northwestern Medicine sports performance coordinator. “Having a dynamic movement assessment performed prior to starting any fitness program can help establish desired areas of improvement.”

Go for the Goal

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, or to regain strength and mobility after an injury, fitness goals create structure. Structure translates to success.

“Be sure your goals are realistic,” says Beitzel. “Create short-term and long-term goals with specific time frames to hold yourself accountable.”

If you’re getting back to being physically active, let your short-term goals be small, such as working out once a week or gently stretching in the morning. Goals should also be progressive. Once you’ve attained a goal, celebrate! Then set the next.

“Rewarding yourself for reaching your goals will help keep you motivated,” says Shawn Tegtmeier, a personal trainer at Northwestern Medicine Crystal Lake Health & Fitness Center. “Tell yourself that if you work out once a week for a month, you’ll buy yourself that new pair of shoes. Then set your next goal, next reward. Write it down!”

Find the Right “Fit”

Commit to fitness, not to one type of exercise.

“Finding a fitness plan that sticks requires trial and error,” says Tegtmeier. “Whether it’s a specific personal trainer or a type of exercise, it’s okay if something just isn’t for you, as long as you keep trying different things.”

That’s why workout trends are so successful. Trends like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or bodyweight exercises certainly warrant trying if they interest you. Whether you choose trends or treadmill, effective fitness plans are fun and take you outside your comfort zone.

Sports Medicine

Daniel H. Blatz, MD
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