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A new year means a new commitment to exercise

’Tis the time of year when many of us attempt to stir up some motivation to make healthy changes in our lifestyle. Usually, losing weight and becoming more fit are near the top of the wish list. While motivation may help jump-start you toward a good beginning, you will definitely need a hefty dose of patience and commitment to journey onward. So many good intentions begin to fall apart after six to 12 weeks. Studies have shown many who drop out were doing too much too soon instead of building up gradually.

Tips to help commit

Recognize your excuses: Ask yourself why you are avoiding exercise. Excuse No. 1 is time. Solution: Break up exercise into 10-minute segments, aiming for 30 minutes by the end of the day.

• Learn on the job: If you are new to the fitness field, it would help to know not only how, but why you are doing certain exercises. And, for safety and maximum effectiveness, learn proper form from the beginning. Solution: Some gyms offer free orientations. Or you can contact a certified personal trainer.

• Make it non-negotiable: Because consistency is the key to successful results, give exercise permission to join your everyday routine. Solution: Schedule exercise on the calendar just as you would other commitments. If you miss an "exercise appointment," schedule a makeup.

• Enjoy variety: It's easy to become bored by repeating the same exercises over and over. If you get burned out so will your commitment. Your body will hit a plateau if you always do the same exercises and it adapts to them. Solution: Change your workout routine every four to six weeks by changing the order or intensity of the exercise, introducing new movements and mixing aerobic and strength conditioning into an interval workout.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Reach her at

Three versions of a pushup

Pushups are a compound movement that strengthens chest and backs, arms, shoulders and core. Perform one to three sets of eight to 16 repetitions.

m Wall Pushup (good for those unable to go to the floor): Standing about 3 feet in front of a wall, extend arms, placing palms against wall, slightly wider than shoulders. Contracting abdominals and tucking buttocks under will help to support upper body. Lean into wall without arching back or locking knees, feet flat on floor. Push off wall until arms are straight with elbows slightly bent.

m Traditional Pushup: On floor, place hands slightly wider than shoulders. Balance on hands and toes, while keeping body in a straight line from head to toe. Contracting abdominals will keep back from sagging. Bend elbows, lowering chest toward floor, then push back up to original position. To modify, perform with bent knees.

. Stability Ball Pushup (advanced pushup): Kneel on floor, behind ball. Roll over ball, walking hands forward on floor. Place hands a little wider than shoulders, with ankles on top of ball. To make easier, move ball until it is under hips or upper thighs. Continue as you would with a traditional pushup.

A new year means a new commitment to exercise 01/20/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 20, 2014 6:05pm]
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