While most of us will say a welcome farewell to 2020, 2021 will unfortunately carryover many of the same challenges we are currently faced with. Altering the means and ability to exercise is one impact that the coronavirus has had on many people. Many gym-goers are still either unable to attend their local gym due to closures or unwilling to travel to the gym due to health concerns. Even without a gym membership, there are many unique ways to continue to stay in shape in 2021. Here are 7 tips from a physical therapist on setting resolutions for health in 2021:
Set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier than you usually wake up and commit to performing a regular morning stretching routine. Starting your day with stretching and light physical activity may be a big help if you experience pain, achiness, or fatigue during the day. While I realize that some mornings we wake up too tired, too rushed, or simply just want to relax, finding stretches that set you up for success for the remainder of the day may make a big difference. When we sleep, we may stay in similar postures for upwards of 4-8 hours at a time, so when we wake up, stretching will benefit our body. Even if only for 5-10 minutes, committing to a successful program will allow stretching to become part of your regular routine, and you will not want to miss out on it!
Since you may not currently have access to a health club, consider exploring YouTube or other social media platforms for workouts. By simply searching “yoga for beginners” onto these search engines, many videos of a variety of different durations appear. If you have ever wanted to experiment with yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, or other exercise programs, now would be a great time to do so and most are free!
If you live in colder states, there are some days that it may be too cold or even too icy or dangerous to walk outside. If this is a concern, write down a program to improve or achieve your fitness goals and save it for when the weather improves. There is no written rule that says a New Year’s Resolution must begin on January 1! After the winter months, set either walking or running goals that gradually increase in distance. For example, currently you may be able to walk two blocks comfortably. If so, set a goal to lengthen your walks each week. You may start with two blocks, and at the end of three months, you may set your goal to be two miles. Try to increase your distance by a block each week. The same may apply for runners. Either set distance or time-bound goals, and provided you are not having any pain, continue to set small but progressive goals each week.
Even if you live in the inner city, there are plenty of unique hiking or biking options around you. For example, Chicago has the Lakefront Trail, the newly made 606 trail, countless parks, and many forest preserves to see. If you feel like taking a drive for a weekend, there is also Starved Rock State Park or the Indiana Sand Dunes to explore. Wherever you reside, consider making a list of ten trails to adventure on in 2021. Do some research in your local area to find new places to explore!
In 2020, many jobs transitioned from working in the office to working from home. Even if you are still in the office, working on a computer or at a desk for the majority of the day can cause postural related pain and reduce your activity level. Set goals such as walking every day for lunch, getting up and taking a lap around your home every hour or performing stretches every day to help. For a list of stretches you can perform at your desk, please follow this link for a previously written blog.
Take time to plan some creative and healthy dinners. Maybe dust off that cookbook that has been sitting in your house, sign up for email newsletters that send out new recipes, or recreate meals that you enjoy from your favorite restaurants.
Set a goal to try and not use your phone one hour before your bedtime. Use of smart phones, tablets, and TVs before you fall asleep may disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm and production of melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Additionally, decreasing your screen usage in general has the capability to decrease headaches and stress in life. If you find that you are using your computer or phone too much – and honestly, who isn’t in 2020? – set manageable goals to help you stay on track of this and manage your screen time.
Whatever you choose to do in 2021, set a goal, and stay committed to your goal. Not having a gym membership should not stop you from finding fun and unique ways to stay in shape in the New Year. If you need additional assistance or experience any pain when trying a new exercise routine, Athletico offers free assessments that will point you in the right direction to achieving your New Year’s fitness resolution! Free assessments are available in-clinic and virtually via our Telehealth platform.
Physical therapy is usually the thing you are told to do after medication, x-rays or surgery. The best way to fix your pain is to start where you normally finish – with physical therapy at Athletico.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.