EDWIN CRENSHAW: Five fitness steps to take for a new you

By Edwin Crenshaw

Happy New Year. This is the time of year when we all reflect on the past year and our lives in general.
We think about what we want to bring in for the New Year and reflect on having the best life possible. That being said, now is the perfect time to set some lifestyle changes in the form of fitness goals.
Here are some simple steps that will help you get back into your favorite jeans, go on a hiking trip with the kids or just start feeling better overall.
• Step One – Check with your physician before starting any new fitness program. He/she can help modify your program according to your past or present medical conditions.
• Step Two – Set reasonable goals. Once you reach your short-term goal, reward yourself for a job well done. Continue to set small, achievable goals that can lead toward the ultimate look and feel for which you strive.
• Step Three – Find a partner or someone to whom you can be accountable. It is always easier working out with someone who shares the same goals and interests. If you do find yourself going solo, good music will help you get through your routine. It also will put a little pep in your step, making it more enjoyable.
• Step Four – Have fun. Be sure to pick an activity you actually enjoy. Some prefer walking, while others enjoy weight training and classes, yoga and Pilates or any combinations.
All are very important to living an active and healthy lifestyle. The key is to tone your muscles, improve cardiovascular fitness and increase flexibility while you are having fun. Then, you won’t find an excuse not to exercise.
• Step Five – Call the pros. Undergo a fitness assessment and request a customized workout program to fit your needs, taking into account any limitations. Many people need a stretching program to prevent unnecessary back pain. Some may want strength training to get stronger for daily activities or prevent osteoporosis. Many seniors need help with balance to prevent falls. Whatever your needs, a fitness specialist can design a workout to focus on those areas and bring positive results.
One last thing to remember, 90 percent of illnesses can be caused by one little word – stress. Exercise can decrease “stress hormones” (cortisol) and increase endorphins, which are your body’s feel-good chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost.
So, grab your shoes and get started exercising. It is definitely worth it. Have a fun, safe and happy New Year.

Edwin Crenshaw serves as fitness coordinator for North Mississippi Medical Center’s Wellness Center in Tupelo.