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Healthy Monday: Resolve to take action in 2010
Expert says key is to take it 1 step at a time
Kenny Casper works out on the treadmill at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Rehabilitation Institute. - photo by Tom Reed

Healthy Monday
Every Monday The Times looks at topics affecting your health.
If you have a topic or issue you would like to see covered in our weekly series, contact senior content editor Edie Rogers via e-mail,

With one last holiday to look forward to this year, many people are already making their list of New Year’s resolutions.

Year after year, many people resolve to lose weight and get in shape, but somewhere around March or April their willpower tends to wear off.

The problem for some is burn out, experts say, but there are things you can do to make sticking to your resolutions that much easier.

"I always tell people to start out slowly. Most people try to rush in too soon or go too hard too soon, and they can get hurt that way," said Bobby Norris, Northeast Georgia Medical Center cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation coordinator.

"Then it becomes painful and is no longer fun, so they stop. The key is to start slowly and to progress gradually."

Before starting any new exercise program, participants should consult with a physician, Norris says.

After getting medical clearance, the next step is to set up a support network.

"I encourage people to seek support in a friend, co-worker, family member or someone that can join them in exercising," said Norris.

"Or join a facility that has group classes. That helps build camaraderie and accountability and increases the odds of sticking with it."

It is also important for people to set both long-term and short-term goals.

"A lot of times, people set very ambitious goals and get frustrated when they don’t reach them in the expected time frame. Let’s say the overall goal is to lose 30 pounds. Set a short-term goal of losing 5 pounds, and when you reach that short-term goal give yourself a reward," said Norris.

"That way, you see progress, and the reward serves as positive reinforcement and encouragement to continue toward your long-term goal."

Considering current economic times, not everyone can afford to join a new gym or fitness facility to get in shape. According to Norris, joining a gym may be fun, but it isn’t necessary to get in a good workout.

"For overall health, cardiovascular exercise is most important, and walking is a really good form of activity. You can do it in neighborhoods, in parks and in malls — really anywhere, and you don’t have to invest money in it. To me, being outside is part of the fun so you can change up locations where you walk and that can add to the enjoyment of your work out," said Norris.

"Strength training also has its place. I always suggest that people start with cardio and get used to that and then they can add in a day or two of strength training. For most of the population, one or two days of strength training should be plenty."

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