5 tips for better health and fitness in 2018

5 tips for better health and fitness in 2018

New Year's resolutions will have plenty of Islanders hitting the gym over the next few weeks with a newfound zeal for fitness.

P.E.I. kinesiologist Travis Saunders, who is an assistant professor and researcher at UPEI, offered some tips to make the most of your fitness and health resolutions. 

1. Make realistic goals

"A lot of people, they make a really big goal," Saunders said.

Instead, people should make manageable, reasonable goals.

"Pick something you think you can manage over the long term ... You want something you can do literally the rest of your life." 

Exercise programs have poor retention rates, he said. 

2. First, get moving

"A really good goal for almost anybody is just to walk more," Saunders said.

It's good for your health, is free, and easily available to most be it in a gym, a shopping mall or outside. 

Walking just five or 10 minutes a day will improve your health if you are inactive now, he said, noting Canadian guidelines suggest a minimum of two and a half hours or exercise a week or 20 minutes per day for adults. 

After you've made a habit of walking, you can increase your pace to add intensity and add some strength training, Saunders said. 

3. No excuses

If it's too cold outside and you're tempted to stay indoors and watch television, Saunders said that's OK — during commercials, he suggests you stand and step in place instead of lying on the couch.

"If you do that for one or two TV shows, that will get you 15, 20 minutes of stepping," he said. "Of course there are treadmills and bikes and more expensive things you can buy — it really doesn't matter." 

4. Sit less

"There's lots of research now that sitting for a long period of time is not good for you," Saunders pointed out. 

If you are stuck sitting down for long periods, try to stand up every 20 minutes and move around, he suggested. 

He's also an advocate of standing desks, and has one himself. 

5. Limit screen time

"If there could be one easy thing you could do, cut out all screens from your life the half hour or hour before you go to bed," Saunders said. 

Take all the screens out of your bedroom and your kids' bedrooms, he said. You'll sleep better and longer, wake up less hungry and have more energy. 

"It's just one of the simplest things you could do for your health." 

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