With the new year just days away, many of you are thinking about change. We hope this change comes in the form of making exercise a consistent part of the upcoming year.
But, before you hit the ground running in 2013, we recommend evaluating your current fitness level and getting things in check before setting out to conquer your new goals.
By getting off to a healthy start and focusing on the most important aspects of your exercise program, you'll be more likely to perform at optimal levels while sticking with it long enough to see consistent changes and the results you've been looking for.
If you haven't had a physical exam within the past year or two, it's a good idea to get things checked out. Conditions like high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar should be diagnosed before beginning an exercise program. Yes, exercise and proper nutrition will likely help reduce the severity of many health-related conditions, but being aware of any issues will help you put together a fitness plan that is more specific to your needs.
Nagging injuries like that sore back or achy knee should be addressed for potential structural problems. Again, proper exercises will help stabilize joints and therefore likely alleviate some joint discomfort. However, a bulging disk in the back or a torn meniscus in the knee could be made worse by certain activities, so it's good to know what you're dealing with before you potentially make things worse.
If you're not getting six to eight hours of sleep every night, it's time to re-evaluate how you're spending your evening hours. Adequate sleep needs to be a priority to allow your body proper recovery from the stress of working out.
Exercise causes physical stress, and your body needs time to recover so it can heal and repair itself. Without proper sleep, you are closing the window of recovery time and further stressing your body. Recovery is just as important as exercise when it comes to getting consistent results and improving overall health.
Equally important to rest and recovery is proper nutrition. Without adequate nutrient uptake, your body will struggle to recover from your workouts. Quality protein, fats and fruits and vegetables will give your body the building blocks for energy production and cellular repair. Sugary foods, in comparison, give you false energy by temporarily spiking blood sugar levels and increasing stress.
Finally, have a positive outlook as you begin your fitness program. The decision to invest in your health is a wise one, but don't stress yourself out by trying to reach your goal overnight. Understand your body's limits and come up with sensible goals that will keep you moving forward.
So understand that success comes from more than just tough workouts. Get all these areas in check and set yourself up for success in 2013.
• Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at PushFitnessTraining.com.