Graceful Health: A New Year's gift for you: Exercise

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People have lots of good reasons for starting an exercise routine: losing weight, fitting better into their clothes, better health and stamina, increased longevity. Ultimately, it's all about doing something good for yourself. What better time than the new year to give yourself this gift?

It's easy to come up with reasons why you can't exercise. With a little planning and a shift in thinking, you can overcome the following common excuses.

Think you can't find the time? We all lead busy lives. Break it down into manageable chunks.

For example, the recommendation is to get 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day. This can be divided into mini-sessions, maybe three 10-minute walks. Take the long way to lunch and back, for instance. Add a ten-minute walk in the morning or after work, or while you're out doing errands, and you can easily get to 30 minutes. Even half of that is a good start.

Don't have the equipment? You don't really need anything fancy. Walking requires only one thing: a good pair of shoes. You don't need the latest and greatest shoes for walking, just something that is comfortable and provides good support. And walking is an excellent beginning activity. It's aerobic, and it can be done anywhere.

When choosing an exercise routine, it's important to pick reasonable goals so you can be successful. If you're not already running on a regular basis, it's probably not a good idea to decide to run a marathon! Try something you can really accomplish in the short run, and if you want to set a higher goal later on, you'll be more prepared.

When setting a goal, remember the acronym: SMART. Reasonable goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Pick a reasonable schedule and a specific activity that you can actually do. Then post it on your calendar IN INK, or set up reminders on your smartphone.

Exercise takes energy, so make a point of giving your body the proper fuel. Don't skip breakfast. Be sure to include lean protein, lots of vegetables, and some fruit with your meals.

Maybe it would help to have an exercise partner, someone to reinforce the schedule and motivate you. This is a good time of year to reach out to a buddy —you can help each other succeed!

Having the proper supportive environment can also lead to success. For example, you can encourage co-workers to bring only healthy snacks to share. An exercise partner, an email buddy, a Facebook challenge — all of these can make it easier to reach your goals.

Grace Cottage Community Health Team Health Coaches can also work with you one-on-one to support change, overcome barriers and help you reach your health goals for the New Year. We can advise you about diet and nutrition and help you get started on exercise that meets your needs. This service is offered free of charge. You can reach Cheryl Shaw or Liz Harrison at 802-365-3715 for an appointment.

You can do this! Start with an "I can" attitude. Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. If you're new to exercise, get your medical provider's okay. Then begin!

Grace Cottage's Community Wellness Center has several low-cost exercise classes that are fun, affordable, and because there's a group, they provide automatic support. Equipment is provided. All classes and groups meet in the Wellness Center at 133 Grafton Road, Townshend. Here are the basics; more information is available at www.gracecottage.org or by calling 802-365-3649.

Cheryl Shaw is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, Certified Wellness Coach, and Certified Exercise Physiologist with over 17 years of fitness and wellness experience. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Fitness from Springfield College.

The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.

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