HEALTH AND FITNESS: Health takes commitment to activity

Now that the hype of New Year Resolutions has passed, you may still be thinking about those nagging promises. Maybe you want to improve your health by becoming more physically active. We’d like to help you stick to your goal and assist you with establishing a pattern of success.

We suggest this challenge: commit to some sort of physical activity at least three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. You wonder what activities would be best? What do you like to do? If you like walking the dog, bowling or doing yard work, these are all great activities. You might also be interested in a class at the gym or a video on the Internet. Make it simple. Choose something you enjoy and commit to doing it three times a week for four weeks. Mark it on your calendar and check it off when you complete it. Measure your success. You can do it.

You may have been on a similar path before. You started with sincere intentions and then encountered the force field of resistance that prevented success. A significant amount of desire and repetition is needed to develop a new habit. We have found three key elements that consistently influence the probability of success.

The first element is a coach who provides encouragement, guilt and glee. Consider asking a friend that has a similar goal of becoming more physically active to be your coach.

The second element is accountability: weekly report your activity to a friend, colleague or family member. Choose someone who will remind you of your goal even when you conveniently forget or avoid the subject. This person will objectively judge your progress but whose potential weekly disappointment and scorn will motivate you to get up and be active on days you would rather not.

The third element is to visually track activity with a chart. This chart must be prominently available; perhaps on your refrigerator so it is frequently seen and can reinforce the positive emotions related to the progress of your new behavior.

The first step is to get started. You can do it.

Best wishes for your continued success.

Authors: Stephanie Norton-Bredl is the health and wellbeing director at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at Bruce deJong is a group exercise instructor at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at


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