How to Start - and Continue - A Lifelong Wellness Plan

posted by Tim Birkey on Wednesday, January 4, 2023

A new year brings a fresh new start to many people’s health and wellness goals. As a strength and conditioning coaches, our personal trainers at Spencer Hospital’s Athletic Enhancement program are pretty accustom to seeing a packed fitness center in early January, but as the calendar pages turn, we start to see the number of participants wane. How do you create a successful, life-long wellness plan? It starts with one step at a time.

Here are some quick steps to keep in mind:

  • First, if you haven’t been exercising at all, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider and get a physical exam.
  • Second, everyone is different, but for many, it helps to start off slowly and add to your fitness plan.
  • Third, it’s helpful to create a plan and set realistic goals. Too many people start and stop a fitness plan because it’s not realistic.
  • It also helps to approach your fitness routine as just that – routine. Understanding that physical activity will have health benefits throughout your life and you should consider it as part of your day, similarly to your plan your meals each day.
  • To make fitness a habit, you need to choose activities you enjoy; and schedule time to do them.

Once you get into a fitness routine, you’ll discover many benefits. Primary advantages of a fitness plan are to help maintain a healthy body weight, maintain muscle mass, and reduce risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. There are also additional benefits as exercise can also boost a person’s mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improves sleep quality, reduces stress, and can improve balance and flexibility.

There are several types of exercise and while some people tend to stick with just one, there are benefits to incorporating a variety of exercise types into your fitness routine.

Just to review a few different types of exercise:

  • Aerobic exercise involves some form of continuous movement, such as walking, swimming or running. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and helps more efficiently pump blood throughout a person’s body.
  • Strength training -  including resistance training, weightlifting, plyometics and sprinting – offers many benefits, including improving bone health, increasing a person’s muscle mass, enhances joint flexibility and balance, and as a person gains muscle, their body burns calories more easily.
  • Flexibility, balance and stability exercises – such as yoga, pilates, tai chi and other core-strengthening exercises - can increases a person’s range of motion and also can help build strength and improve balance and flexibility

Again, it’s beneficial to perform a variety of types of exercises for a variety of benefits and also to prevent boredom.

While some people can get started and maintain a fitness program all on their own, there are many benefits to working with a personal trainer. The three primary advantages include:  

  • First, is safety as a person learns the proper body mechanics of a lift and safe weights to start and progress with as they build strength
  • Second, is personalization. A trainer can help a person reach his or her individualized goals and develop a fitness routine that best fits the person’s health status.
  • Third, is motivation and accountability. Not only can a trainer provide motivation and reassurance during a workout, it’s also motivating and creates a level of accountability to know you have a scheduled appointment with a trainer to help keep you on track.

At Spencer Hospital Athletic Enhancement, we provide a range of services, including personal training and fitness center memberships. We also work with student athletes, particularly during their off-seasons, to help them develop and enhance their athletic performance.

Our AE fitness center provides 24-hour access for adult members, within a medical facility. The center features a variety of cardiovascular equipment, such as treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes, and also strength equipment, including free weights and training machines. Medical supervision is available through on-site staffing during weekday hours and access to emergency personnel nights and weekends.

We invite people to contact us about training options or fitness center memberships – to get Healthier Together in the new year.

  1. fitness
  2. wellness

About The Author

Tim Birkey

Tim Birkey is an exercise specialist with Spencer Hospital’s Athletic Enhancement service. A certified strength and conditioning coach, tim earned his master’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, where he also served as assistant strength and conditioning coach for UNI Athlet ... read more