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Life-Long Fitness Goals

Make exercise a lifestyle, not a short-term goal

Tony Reed | 12/11/2013, midnight
Fitness isn't a resolution; it's a way of life.

As the holiday season approaches, many people begin formulating their physical fitness goals. Whether it’s to lose 15 pounds of fat or build five pounds of muscle, the reality is that many fitness goals fall by the wayside as the year progresses. Also, many of these goals are short-term fixes to long-term problems.

During magazine and newspaper interviews, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “What’s the secret to maintaining a fitness program for over 30 years?” This is also a question that I’ve also asked longtime runners, walkers and bicyclists. These are the everyday people you’ve watched running or walking past your home or in the local park for the last several years. For us, fitness isn’t a New Year’s resolution; it’s a way of life. It’s built into our everyday living, like watching the six o’clock news or weekend sports.

Here are a few of our secrets.

1. Select a life-long sport that you’ll enjoy. If you don’t enjoy running, try walking. If you don’t know how to swim, but always wanted to learn, take lessons. You’re never too old to learn a new sport. Also, don’t be afraid of being a multisport athlete, especially if you get bored doing one sport. One member, Deborah, was a non-athlete. She completed her first triathlon a couple days after her 52nd birthday. The race consisted of a 300-meter swim, 14-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run. This was her first (ever) athletic completion. Now, this event has become her annual goal.

2. Select an activity that you can do alone or without assistance. If you require or rely on a partner, you may skip a workout because your partner isn’t available. Your partner’s excuse becomes your excuse. This can be a problem with such sports as tennis, basketball, football or racquetball. When you pick a solitary-type of sport, such as walking, swimming, weightlifting or biking, it becomes a “bonus” when you run into a training partner during your workout.

3. Select an activity that you can do year-around. If not, pick a combination of activities, based on the seasons. For example, you can ride bikes in the summer and run in the winter. Or get an indoor treadmill for running or a stationary wind-trainer for your bike. This keeps you training throughout the winter months. I enjoy running because it’s simple, doesn’t require a lot of equipment, may be done year around and is easy do while out of town. In addition to running, I perform pushups and sit ups to help build upper body strength and a stronger midsection or core. These are easily performed in my hotel room without any special equipment.

4. Have a strong moral reason to work out. A moral reason is so strong that your closest friend, spouse or children can’t talk you out of your exercise. For example, I was diagnosed with a pre-diabetic condition as an 8-year-old. I was supposed to go on insulin as a teenager. Fortunately, I became involved in high school sports and didn’t have to take insulin. During my high school and college years, a co-worker, Bill, lost his eye to glaucoma, his toes and leg to diabetes, and, ultimately his life. I don’t believe he was even 40 years old.