Getting more exercise is consistently one of America’s most popular New Year’s resolutions. According to a YouGov survey conducted in 2020, 50% of respondents vowed to do more exercise or improve their fitness in 2021, up from the 46% who made the same resolution in 2020. To boost your chances of sticking to your New Year’s resolution fitness plan, consider taking a more mindful approach to fitness.
How To Start a Mindful Fitness Journey
Mindfulness means being fully present in the moment, and it may help you succeed on your fitness journey. A study published in Behavior Research and Therapy reported that people who successfully maintained their fitness journey were more likely to score higher on measures of mindfulness. This may be because being mindful helps you avoid getting derailed by workout obstacles, such as a busy schedule or waning motivation.
To start your mindful fitness journey, go into each workout with a specific goal. For example, you might aim to strengthen specific muscles. Pay attention to your body and try to stay present in the moment. Focus on your form and how your muscles feel as you move through each exercise. Getting a workout partner or accountability coach could help you stay on track.
The Mind-Body Connection: Fitness and Mental Health
A New Year’s resolution to get more exercise or improve your fitness level isn’t just about being healthier—it’s also about feeling healthier. A regular exercise routine can help support your mental health, as well as your physical health.
The link between fitness and reduced stress is well established. Exercise reduces levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins. Those are the natural painkillers responsible for the famous “runners’ high.”
Fitness may even help you manage mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. A study published in Preventive Medicine concluded that exercise — whether at low, moderate, or vigorous intensity — could treat mild to moderate depression at least as well as standard treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy. And a systematic review in BMC Health Services Research found that regular exercise sessions were a viable treatment option for people with anxiety; even low-intensity workouts such as walking were shown to have a benefit.
Avoid These Common New Years Resolution Fitness Mistakes
When you head to the gym this New Year, watch out for some of the common mistakes exercisers make when starting (or restarting) a fitness journey.
Going Too Hard, Too Soon
If you’ve worked out in the past, you may want to pick up right where you left off. And if you’re new to fitness, you may want to jump into a challenging program. Overestimating your fitness level is a common mistake, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) explains, but pushing your body to do too much, too soon could put you at risk of injuries like sprains and fractures.
Injuries could derail even the most committed exercisers, so it’s essential to consider injury prevention in your fitness journey. Start slowly, be mindful about how your body feels, and increase the frequency and intensity of your workouts as your fitness level improves. If you push too hard during a workout and pull a muscle, cold therapy might offer some relief.
Neglecting Rest and Recovery
Starting your fitness journey can be exciting, and at first, you may be eager to hit the gym every day. However, rest and recovery are essential parts of a sustainable fitness journey. Your body needs time to repair its muscles, tendons, and ligaments after challenging workouts.
Schedule regular days off to give your body a break, and be mindful about when you schedule your exercise sessions. After a high-intensity workout, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends waiting at least 48 hours to exercise the same muscle groups again. In between workouts, support your body’s recovery by drinking enough water and eating healthy, nutritious foods. Cold water immersion has also been shown to help with muscle recovery.
Getting Discouraged by Post-Workout Soreness
When you start your fitness journey, you’ll likely feel some muscle soreness after workouts. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) usually starts around 12 to 24 hours after you finish your workout, the ACSM notes, and it might last for a few days. This soreness happens when your muscles are worked in ways they’re not used to, resulting in microscopic damage to the muscle fibers. While the microscopic damage is not necessarily bad, excessive pain is never desirable.
If you’re new to exercising, you may feel discouraged by DOMs. The good news is that this soreness generally becomes less of a problem as your fitness level improves and your muscles get used to the work. To manage post-workout soreness, the ACSM suggests getting a massage or using cold therapy. Mindful stretching may help with feelings of stiffness or reduced range of motion. For full-body relief after a hard workout, hop into a refreshing ice bath.
Stick To Your New Year’s Resolution With Ice Baths
The New Year is a great time to start (or restart) your fitness journey, and regular ice baths may help you stick to your resolution. Mindful cold water immersion could help you avoid common workout mistakes, such as neglecting recovery, that could hinder your progress. A purpose-built cold therapy tool like the Ice Barrel makes it easy to make ice baths a regular part of your New Year’s fitness routine.
The Invitation to Adventure
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