What would you say if I told you that I could tell you the secret to never breaking another New Year's resolution? I mean NEVER. I will tell you how... later!
If you are like 97% of the nation, you came up with at least one, even if it was only expressed to yourself. If you are like 82% of those that made resolutions, one of them had something to do with getting in better shape. Some choose to lose weight, others exercise, and most choose to start eating more healthy foods and cut out the junk.
If you are like 55% of those that made health related resolutions, you gave them all up by the end of January and over 90% had given them up by the end of March. The problem with resolutions is that people set expectations and demands that are too high, goals that are unattainable, and failure is tantamount to waiting until next January.
But any physical activity is better than none, at any age, even if it doesn’t fit common notions of exercise, says a University of Ohio professor and leading advocate for efforts to encourage “active aging.”
It’s important to “choose an activity that you will do,” rather than just wishing to do something more ambitious. It really matters less exactly what you do than it matters to avoid being completely sedentary.
Only about 15 percent of adults over 65 get a recommended level of physical activity, based on a 1996 report from the U.S. Surgeon General, and as many as one-third get none at all.
Part of the problem may be that we’ve adopted a medical model of exercise, where exercise is sort of a bitter pill, and you get a prescription and you’re expected to stick to it … But the bottom line is it takes time to change behavior, and I personally feel the broader you can define your activity program, the less likely you are to become demoralized.
Some people might benefit from strategies such as keeping a diary of all their physical activity, including even things like short walks to the store or working in the garden. It will motivate you to avoid days in which you have nothing to write down. Another simple strategy... buy a dog and walk it.
We used to think in terms of physical activity as traditional exercise, but now we realize that physical activity can be gained from a large number of different activities. And once people get started, they gradually can increase the intensity and duration at their own rate.
In order to age successfully, older persons will need to be not only physically active, but also socially, intellectually, culturally, and (for many seniors) spiritually active. One of the challenges for us in the new millennium will be to learn how to integrate physical activity into the wider social, cultural, and economic context of active aging as a whole.
So how do you stop breaking those resolutions? Simple... never make them. Not only do you not set unrealistic goals, you keep your options open all year, and you don't have to discover failure yet one more time.