Almost everyone celebrates the New Year with a different kind of fervor. After all, it symbolizes fresh beginnings, a clean slate, another chance at redemption. Regardless of the difficulties and challenges of the past year, you feel more hopeful, perhaps even enthusiastic, about what lies ahead.
To be more intentional with your relationships, find a side hustle, take better care of yourself… weren’t these some of your dreams that got lost amidst the fears and frustrations of the past months? No worries!
Now is the perfect time to roll up your sleeves and get to work on making those dreams come true. And what better way to start the New Year strong than with these 5 top-notch exercises?
1. Walk Your Way to Health
Let’s start with the most basic of exercises — walking. Technically, walking is not considered a typical “strength-building” exercise, but it can maintain your heart health so you can engage in more intense physical activities.
Walking may look like one of the easiest and simplest workouts but doing it daily can help you live a longer and fuller life. One study showed this physical activity can reduce the risk for all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality. In addition, just 30 minutes every day can also boost bone strength and muscle endurance.
When walking, check if your stance is correct. Get your head up and relax your neck, head, and shoulders. Swing your arms lightly while ensuring your back is straight. As you step forward, roll your foot from heel to toe.
2. Get Into Resistance Training
Resistance training is essentially the same as weight or strength training. This type of workout makes your muscles work against specially calibrated weights to induce contraction and build strength. It also helps improve anaerobic endurance and increase skeletal muscle size.
Experts recommend adults get into muscle strengthening workouts with balance and flexibility exercises at least twice a week. To maximize the benefits from resistance training and keep your body from plateauing, change up your sets, repetitions, and the types of activities you do (free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, etc.).
3. Intensify with HIIT
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, works on the principle of alternating low and high intensities. This means you interrupt brief but vigorous workouts (1-3 minutes) with less intense activities (1-2 minutes) to allow your body some respite in between.
The bursts of activity interspersed with downtime tap both the body’s aerobic and anaerobic energy-producing systems. Interval training is especially popular among endurance athletes because it can improve cardiovascular fitness in a very short time.
You may think HIIT is just for heart health. However, research shows that HIIT lifters achieved more significant gains in the weight room compared to the alternate group.
As beneficial as it is, do note that interval training can be extremely demanding on your body. It’s best to see your doctor before proceeding with this type of workout.
4. Ramp It Up with SIT
If you have been doing HIIT, you will find yourself in familiar territory with sprint interval training, or SIT. You can do this type of workout anywhere and anytime without any special equipment.
It is also called the One and Done workout because you can finish a session in just 7 minutes. The word “sprint” here denotes maximum effort, which you will expend for 20 seconds. You can alternate this with one-minute active rest periods. The brief respites will give your muscles time to recover from the preceding high-energy bursts. Repeat this cycle for 7 minutes.
The main difference between HIIT and SIT is that the latter requires maximal or even supramaximal intensities, giving you the thrill of finding out how far your body can go.
5. Shore Up Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Being “in the red” shouldn’t keep you from staying physically fit and strong. In fact, you can even burn calories on your period by doing pelvic-floor muscle-strengthening exercises.
The pelvic floor is a funnel-shaped muscular sheet that keeps abdominal pressure from overwhelming the bladder, uterus, and bowel. This group of muscles also supports the muscles in the abdomen, hips, and back. In addition to holding up your organs, the pelvic floor also helps ensure the proper functioning of our excretory and reproductive systems.
To strengthen your pelvic floor, discover first where it is by stopping your urination midstream. Those muscles that have been activated are your pelvic floor muscles. Once you’ve identified where they are, sit comfortably and tighten them as if you’re lifting something off the floor. Do this for 10 to 15 times per set for 3 sets daily. Make sure to relax your abdomen, buttocks, and thighs as you perform this exercise.
Trying one or more of these exercises will help you start off the New Year strong. Comment below which one you are most interested in trying.
Feature Image by John Arano on Unsplash