New year, new start for fitness: 5 tips to get you going

At Home Fitness writer Aaron Dorksen enjoys the view after a hike in the Arizona Mountains last year. Dorksen says to set short- and long-term goals to help reach your fitness goals in 2011.

A new year means a chance for a new start to fitness. This week I’ll be offering tips to get you started off on the right foot in 2011 — today here are five tips to get you going and keep it that way.
Sometimes the hardest step to take toward reaching a goal is the first one.
Setting a goal to get fit, and then making the commitment to follow through is harder than it sounds for some people.
If you have gotten away from being fit for some time, or really never made it a priority, it’s never too late to try to improve your health through exercise.
Here are five tips to get you going toward a better life to start 2011 through exercise.
1. Set short- and long-term goals – It’s OK to set a long-term goal, such as lose 20 or more pounds or run a 5K race.
However, it’s also important to set short-term goals to keep you going in the meantime, such as just making a positive health choice each day. It could be to take a brisk walk, ride a bike, or do a light weight workout.
Many times, focusing on short-term goals is a much easier way to eventually reach a long-term goal.
If your fitness level is good but motivation is a problem, setting goals can help. Pick a target weight you want to achieve, try to up the amount of weight you’re lifting or maybe try to ride farther on your area bike trail.
2. Keep a workout log – If you write down your workout activity it will serve several purposes. You’ll be able to chart your progress and you’ll feel good looking back at your results. You can also make notes on what workouts you liked or didn’t. It should also serve as a motivator because you’ll feel like a slacker if several days go by without working out and your notebook is bare. Age has no limit for logging activity – my grandma was charting how long she walked for each day into her 90s.
3. Change things up – Vary your workouts to avoid getting stuck in a rut and keep things interesting. It is also healthier if you don’t always work out the muscles the same way. If you use free weights a lot, on occasion try kettlebells. If your main form of cardio is a treadmill workout, try to mix in a form of cardio you don’t usually do, such as swimming or biking.
4. Set aside time to exercise – This tip seems simple enough, but many people don’t free up enough time for fitness and then use it as an excuse that they’re too busy. If you say you’re too busy to work out then you’re definitely too busy to get sick. Sure, there are going to be some days when it really is impossible to get a workout in, but if it’s a big enough priority you’ll do it. Cut out a few video games, or watching a reality TV show and get on the treadmill or elliptical instead. Or you could set up a TV in front of the treadmill.
5. Get a fitness partner – This can be one of the toughest things to do, but if you can find a reliable workout partner it can be one of the biggest pluses possible. You can push and learn from each other and it can just flat out make working out more enjoyable. If you’re married, find some activities you can do together. The biggest key to having a workout partner is that it will be important to someone else that you get your workouts in, too. Don’t leave your buddy hanging.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at

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