NEW YORK — Helen Perzan has lost 20 pounds over the past year.
“I’m working out five days a week, so I’m really motivated.”
She said losing weight wasn’t her priority. Her goal was to feel better and stay mobile.
“If you want long term behavior change, you really have to focus on positive reinforcement.”
Dr. Brandon Alderman studies exercise psychology at Rutgers University. He said Helen has the right idea. She likely had success shedding pounds, because it wasn’t her primary focus.
“When your goals are tied in to something you really want to see, like weight loss, and you step on the scale two weeks after January and you don’t see a measurable amount of weight loss, you aren’t getting any sort of reinforcement.”
He said that’s also why so many people give up on their fitness resolutions after just a few weeks. To make resolutions that stick: be S.M.A.R.T. Set smart, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based goals.
“Set your goals in relation to an immediate benefit that you might gain. I want to reduce my level of stress. I want to sleep better. Those are immediate benefits tied to exercise.”
Exercise should be considered a habit or just a part of the daily routine. At least 30 minutes a day five times a week is recommended for most adults.
Also pick an activity you enjoy because you are more likely to keep doing it.
The benefits of regular exercise are big from decreased risk of heart attacks, stroke and chronic diseases, as well as lower rates of stress, anxiety and depression.