By: Gerald Weniger, MEd, MPAS, ATC, PA-C

Every January, millions of people around the world make New Year’s resolutions; hoping to make positive changes in their lives.  Sometimes resolutions are related to work or finances, but personal health and fitness goals are the themes most often cited by people.  A few goals that are typically in the “top 10” annually are to lose weight, quit smoking, and exercise more (Zomick, 2020).

Exercising and losing excessive body weight go hand-in-hand.  Lack of exercise and physical inactivity are major health concerns worldwide, but especially in developed countries like the United States.  The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports 39.8% of adults in the United States are obese (CDC, 2020).  This despite the medical literature clearly showing beneficial effects of physical activity on many health outcomes, including cancer risk, bone mineral density, overall mood, and cardiovascular disease.  In fact, a lack of physical activity was estimated to be responsible for about 9% of premature deaths worldwide by a study in 2012 (Lee, et al.).  More specifically, did you know that exercise may also improve intellectual function, increase the likelihood of tobacco cessation, reduce stress, and decrease your risk of falls?

The benefits of exercise seem to be dose-dependent; meaning the more the better.  However, a 2017 study showed that people who participate in as little as one or two 75-minute sessions of exercise per week had decreased cancer mortality, decreased cardiovascular mortality, and decreased “all-cause mortality” (O’Donovan, Lee, Hamer, & Stamatakis).  Therefore if your exercise is limited to being a weekend warrior, it is still quite beneficial!

In conclusion, set an exercise and/or weight loss goal for 2020 and go for it!  People are most successful when they are mentally prepared for the challenge when they set a goal that is manageable, and when they make the goal a priority (Zomick, 2020).  It takes a person an average of 66 days to form a new habit (Knapton, 2019).  Therefore, keep consistent with the new exercise plan until at least early March for it to “stick” for the entire year! 

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  (2020).  Adult obesity facts.  Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

Knapton, S.  (31 December 2019).  The science of how to stick to your new year’s resolutions.  The Telegraph.  Retrieved from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2019/12/31/science-stick-new-years-resolutions/

Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Lobelo F, et al.  (2012).  Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: An analysis of the burden of disease and life expectancy.  Lancet, 380: 219

O’Donovan G, Lee IM, Hamer M, Stamatakis E.  (2017).  Association of “weekend warrior” and other leisure-time physical activity patterns with risks for all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality.  Journal of the American Medical Association, 177: 335

Zomick, B.  (2020).  Top 10 most common new year’s resolutions (and how to follow through on them).  Retrieved from: https://www.goskills.com/Soft-Skills/Articles/Top-10-new-years-resolutions

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