A new year, a new you

Guilt drives most executives to make
amazing fitness resolutions every
year. In the end, unfortunately, the only exercise many of us get is pushing
back the resolutions we made and pulling
out a litany of excuses as to why we did not
get them done.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Jason
Ivory, health and fitness manager at Akron
General’s Health and Wellness Center-North says one of the secrets to a successful program is keeping things realistic.

Smart Business spoke with Ivory about
how busy professionals can stick to a
workout plan.

What’s a reasonable time to set aside for a
workout and still get some benefit without
ruining my schedule?

Allow about one hour to accomplish an
adequate workout. The American College
of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of exercise three to five times per
week. The key to adherence is to schedule
exercise with the same importance as a
business meeting. This way, exercise time
is on your schedule and you can’t double
schedule another appointment. Many people make exercise a secondary priority so,
many times, it gets bumped to the bottom
of the list and put off until tomorrow.

Any goal that is obtainable or encourages
a high level of adherence is a reasonable
goal. I recommend focusing on goals of
increasing activity as opposed to a numeric weight goal. A goal such as increasing
exercise to three times per week is very
feasible for most busy executives to schedule into their week. It is more practical
than a goal to lose 25 pounds. Exercise regularly and weight loss will follow.

What types of exercise are best?

Any physical activity is better than no
physical activity; so running 30 minutes a
day is very acceptable. When seeking out
an exercise program or information about
exercise, I recommend contacting an exercise professional with a four-year Exercise
Science degree from an accredited university. There are many myths and misinformation in circulation, so by seeking out the proper exercise professional these myths
and misinformation can be dispelled and
true knowledge delivered.

For the general public or someone who
has been sedentary, the primary goal
should be general fitness. Focusing on general fitness will allow any health concerns
to be addressed and managed or corrected.
Typically, someone who has been inactive
for some time will need to gradually work
into an exercise program and progressively advance to minimize the risk for injury.

For those individuals who are currently
active and do not have health issues to
address, it is quite appropriate to train for a
specific sport or event. Training for a specific sport allows an individual to target
muscles and movements that may not be
addressed in a general exercise program.
Training these sport-specific movements
will enhance an individual performance
and outcomes of that sport.

Will a good exercise regimen let me get
away with eating seconds?

No. In most cases, the calories consumed in seconds are greater than the
calories burned in an average bout of
exercise. Exercise and proper nutrition
go hand in hand when it comes to living
a healthy lifestyle. Just as it is important to seek out the proper exercise professional, it is equally important to seek out
a registered dietician when it comes to
nutrition information.

How do I benchmark a fitness program?

Benchmarks are key to a successful
exercise program, too. Benchmarks will
be different for each person depending
on his or her specific goals. Getting a fitness assessment from a qualified exercise professional when beginning an
exercise program will give you a baseline
for comparison down the road. The data
collected in the initial assessment will
allow the exercise professional and you
to set obtainable goals along the way. For
a person who is new to exercise, one of
the most overlooked benchmarks is
learning about different exercises and
the areas of the body worked.

Many people like objective numbers to
use as benchmarks in their programs. You
can track resting blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat percentage, muscular
strength and cardiovascular endurance.
These are great indicators of progress.
Lowering resting blood pressure, lowering bad cholesterol, raising good cholesterol, decreasing the body fat percentage,
being able to lift a greater weight or a specific weight more times, and being able to
walk or run longer or at a faster pace are
all indicators of success. Finally, looking
at how a person feels is a great way to
track subjective progress.

How do I know when I’ve ‘made it’?

You’ve made it when you’ve made appropriate lifestyle changes that allow you to be
physically active on a regular basis and eat
a nutritionally balanced diet. When these
two things become permanent fixtures in
your life, the objective benchmarks will follow. The hardest part of a New Year’s resolution is making the permanent lifestyle
changes needed to obtain other goals.

JASON IVORY is the health and fitness manager at Akron
General’s Health and Wellness Center-North in Stow, Ohio. Reach
him at [email protected].