Ready, Set, Refresh! How Physical Therapy Can Help You Reach Your 2018 Fitness Goals

When the calendar year comes to a close, we often find ourselves physically and mentally depleted from the holidays and the end-of-the-year rush. It’s no wonder that three of the most common self-improvement resolutions uttered as the clock strikes midnight are: eat more healthily, lose weight and commit to a regular exercise program.

January is a great time to press the restart button and revisit our ongoing quest to be better versions of ourselves, and not just because the longstanding New Year’s Eve tradition tells us to. Each year, however, Americans struggle to turn the goals they’ve set out for themselves into long-term change. In fact, according to Statistic Brain Research Institute, of the 41% of Americans who make resolutions each year, just 9.2% successfully achieve their objectives.

When it comes to committing to a regular exercise program, don’t become a statistic! For those looking to make exercise a regular habit, enlisting help in achieving your goals is one way to ensure success. You might consider recruiting an exercise buddy (to make you accountable), using a calendar app to schedule workouts (to dedicate time in your day) or consulting a healthcare professional (to supervise your program and keep you safe).

Physical therapy is a great resource for those interested in beginning a new exercise program or overcoming a nagging injury. Rehab professionals are trained to assess limitations and dysfunction, teach proper body mechanics and prevent—and treat—injuries. Your physical therapist will ask about any issues you’re encountering, evaluate your functional abilities, gather a thorough medical history and discuss your fitness and activity goals.

One rule of thumb is to start slow—particularly if you’re trying a new form of exercise or haven’t been active for some time. And once you start to form the habit of regular activity, mix it up by engaging in multiple activities rather than focusing on one. Many lingering injuries occur because of overuse or repetitive stress, most often at the hands of participating in one activity—such as running or biking—exclusively.

If you’re experiencing pain, inflammation or weakness, make an appointment to be evaluated by a physical therapist. The movement specialist will assess and identify the cause of the nagging injury and teach you how to modify your behavior to distribute stress to different parts of the body and reduce the repetitive nature of your movement patterns.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean putting your resolution to exercise regularly on hold. Your PT can work with you to identify an appropriate fitness program, including the safest frequency, intensity and duration of each workout session. The best part? There will be no excuses because you’ll have all the tools you need to be make this your most fit year yet.