CINCINNATI—By now, those with fitness-minded New Year’s resolutions may be seeing results from their new gym routine—or they may have lost their enthusiasm and thought about quitting.
UC rehabilitation sciences assistant professor Dan Carl, PhD, said it’s a tricky time for new exercisers who started after the holidays.
"If you’re starting a new fitness routine, don’t be surprised if you hit a wall as your body adjusts to the workout,” he says. "Many times, you’ll get a quick neural response to a new exercise that feels good, but then your muscles need to adjust. Expect that lull—if it doesn’t happen, you’re the lucky one. But for everyone else, it’s normal.”
He says with exercises that involve strength training, like weightlifting or kettlebell exercises, the movement will eventually feel easier.
But that doesn’t mean you’re progressing: "In your mind, it feels like you’re doing more, but your body has just gotten used it to it. To avoid boredom setting in, mix it up: Try a new exercise or take a different class.”
The main thing, he says, is that you keep moving.
"Make a routine,” he says. "Try to work out at the same time every day or the same days every week. It makes it easier, and in six weeks, it will be part of your life. You’ll feel like your day isn’t complete until you exercise.”
And if you can only squeeze in 15 minutes one day—don’t count it as a loss. Even a brief workout is beneficial, especially since it further ingrains the exercise habit into your lifestyle.
"I like to advise clients to identify an overall purpose and not always a specific goal,” says Carl. "It’s not about, ‘I ran x number of miles today,’ but ‘I ran healthier today—and I’m healthier for that.’”
And finally, for those who fell off the resolution wagon early on in January, Carl has one simple tip: Get back on.
"It doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do last week,” he says, "just find a way to start again. You don’t get anywhere until you take the first step.”
Carl directs the undergraduate Health Sciences program at UC's College of Allied Health Sciences. For more information on physical therapy education at UC, visit cahs.uc.edu.