The University at Buffalo Center for Successful Aging recommends considering a BURST approach to fitness for the holidays.
Avoid injury because it can reverse months of gains.
Listen to your body. When something doesn’t feel right, stop.
Get help when lifting heavy objects.
Build in rest days.
Know risks of your fitness and have a plan if something goes wrong.
Unleash your potential
Push past your comfort zone. Rating of Perceived Exertion can help. This is a self-rating of intensity based on heart rate, breathing and muscle fatigue during exercise. On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 representing the hardest effort possible, aim for an intensity of 7 interspersed with lower intensity recovery phases at about 3 or 4.
Reach for new goals
Aim for behavioral and performance goals instead of body composition goals. For example, “I will exercise or meditate, or both, at least 20 minutes each day through the holidays,” instead of “I will lose weight during the holidays.”
Seek small, attainable goals and grow from there. For example, exercise at least once during the first week, then twice the second week; or walk one block the first time out, twice the second and so on.
Combat all-or-nothing thinking. Small gains count and small setbacks are not failures. Stay encouraged.
Track progress. Count steps, keep an exercise journal.
Find a challenge each day. Take the stairs, if it’s safe for you. Park further from your destination. Pick up the pace during part of your walk.
Spice up your life
Variety prevents boredom. Walk the block, or the mall, alternating your pace. Do 5 to 10 squats; if it’s too easy, hold weights. Try some pushups, even if you have to start by doing wall pushups.
Find a weight you can lift eight to 10 times before getting tired; move up in weight when it becomes easy to lift it 12-15 times.
Add intensity to your typical workout, even if for a few minutes.Get out of the gym. Try rock climbing, dancing, laser tag.
Build in short 3- to 5-minute exercise breaks.
Look for YMCAs, senior centers and other winter recreational pursuits.
Be active together. Social support can help you stay motivated and committed.
Team and group activity improves adherence.
Create an enjoyable environment that supports common goals.
Sources: Nikhil Satchidanand, a UB exercise physiologist and assistant professor, and Kenneth Seldeen, research assistant professor, both part of the Center for Successful Aging and UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.