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New Year, New Me: Tips for getting in shape for 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic

Health experts suggests moving more and sitting less throughout the day. You can get moving by starting small.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — America’s top New Year’s resolutions for 2021 are exercising more, eating healthier, and losing weight. That’s according to a recent Statista Global Consumer Survey. Researchers surveyed 531 U.S. adults. Out of all the participants who said they were making one or several new year’s resolutions, 44 percent wanted to exercise more, 42 percent planned to eat healthier, and 31 percent wanted to lose weight in the year of 2021.

Exercising can be a challenge while staying at home amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But, it's possible—and important—to be physically active while social distancing. Exercising reduces blood pressure and anxiety and helps you sleep better. It can also help to improve mood and energy level.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need about 150 minutes of exercise a week. That’s about 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week. Children aged 3 to 5 years need physical activity throughout the day, every day for growth and development. Children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity daily.

Regardless of your age, some physical activity is better than none. Health experts suggests moving more and sitting less throughout the day. You can get moving by starting small. That includes engaging in active family play time. You might want to also consider catching up on household chores, such as cleaning out the closet or vacuuming the floor. Health experts also suggests getting outside for a safe socially distant exercise between you and other active neighbors. You can mow the grass, take a bike ride, or go for a walk.

"You can start with something simple, like fasted cardio,” said Coach Lynch Hunt, owner and founder of AWOL Fitness. “Wake up in the morning on an empty stomach, walk right outside of your front door, walk in one direction for 15 or 20 minutes and then turn around and come back home. That will give you a low intensity steady state cardio walk or cardio exercise regimen of 30 to 40 minutes. It will help you with regulating your insulin sensitivity issues because you will be working out in the absence of glucose. It will also help you burn fat even faster.”

Another great way to get up and moving during these strange times is by exercising at home. You might want to consider making television watching more active by doing jumping jacks or push-ups during the commercials. Remember, fitness experts say, you can achieve your 2021 fitness goals by simply staying connected, active, and safe.

“When I say stay connected, I mean find a group or community with likeminded individuals that are all striving towards staying healthy and working out and eating right, said Hunt. “When I say stay active, I'm talking about there's a direct correlation between physical and emotional health. Your normal way of staying active, it may be a little bit more different during the pandemic. But, you got to keep finding ways to keep your body moving. When I talk about staying safe, there are so many apps and websites out there that help assist you with exercises, yoga, and meditation. You won't even have to worry about social distancing because you'll be practicing these things from the comfort of your own home.”

The CDC says understanding common barriers to physical activity and creating strategies to overcome them may help you make physical activity part of your daily life. Some common barriers to physical activity include lack of time, social support, energy, motivation, and skills. Other potential barriers to exercising might be fear of injury, high costs and lack of facilities, and weather conditions.

You can overcome potential barriers by adding physical activity to your daily routine in available time slots, explaining your interests in physical activity to friends willing to act as accountability partners, scheduling physical activity for times in the day or week when you feel energetic, and planning ahead. You can also select activities that don’t require new skills, such as walking, climbing stairs, or jogging. Health experts say you should also understand that losing weight or staying committed to a healthy lifestyle is a process that takes time.

"You didn’t put the weight on overnight and it’s not going to fall off overnight,” Hunt said. “The sooner you figure out it is a process, the faster you will understand that it will take a little bit of time. The body has to be detoxed, the mind has to be detoxed and the environment and associations. They all have to change to be conducive to the growth and process of where you want to go. So, one of the first things you need to do is change the environment of everything, from your physical, mental and social activities.”

If you’re interested in getting in shape for the new year – and beyond, you might want to consider joining the 30-day fitness challenge at AWOL Fitness in Greensboro. The gym is offering in-person and at-home virtual workouts. AWOL is following all CDC guidelines to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes the use of face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting, and implementing at least 6ft social distancing measures in the facility. During the challenge, participants receive a motivational E-book along with other helpful items. The challenge begins on Monday, January 11.

To sign-up or learn more about the 30-day fitness challenge, visit the AWOL Fitness website. For more information about physical activity or exercising during the pandemic, visit the CDC website.