A group of active seniors in the park greet each other as they pass on their morning walk and ride

It’s New Year’s Resolutions time again, which calls for my annual reminder about your fitness plans.  The busiest exercise days of the year are Jan. 1 to 7.  After that, most folks realize that they have already broken their resolution of exercising every day or are too sore to continue at the level they started.  So it’s time to remind you how to plan sensibly to become more fit in 2021.

Do what you can do:  It doesn’t matter where you start, just that you do start.  Keep it simple.  Even a short walk around the block may be too much.  But do something.

Regularity:  This is the key.  Find a good time to do whatever you start.  No one can keep to an everyday schedule, but most of us can manage to be faithful to three days a week.

Graduality:  Once you have become regular, you can begin to think about gradually increasing one of three factors you control to make a difference:  duration, intensity, and frequency.  I suggest that you start with duration, keeping to whatever you can do, but just doing it a little longer.  Later, you can do it a little faster or stronger (intensity); leave the frequency about the same.  But again, be gradual.

Are you someone who feels guilty about not doing the most you can or not doing it as often as possible?  Please realize that conditioning (i.e, fitness) is not what you do to your body, but how your body reacts to what you do.  Just as the body adapts to an inoculation by developing antibodies to fight the stress of a disease, your body needs recovery time to adjust to the level of exercise stress put upon it.

At my age, I need a day between workouts to recover. Thus, when the Bluffton pool is open, I swim with parameters of three days a week and 1,000 yards.  What I vary most for fitness is intensity.  When it closed this summer, I adjusted for 3 ½ months to my smaller apartment complex pool by decreasing duration (300 to 500 yards), but increasing frequency (five to six mornings a week) to complete my swimming with a less intense focus on stroke improvement before others arrived. 

For 2021, please do plan to improve your fitness, but keep your resolutions realistic so that you can become more fit and healthy here in this wonderful town for exercise.

Dr. Bob Colyer of Bluffton is an actively retired college professor, coach and author of “Swim Better: A Guide to Greater Efficiency for Swimmers & Instructors,” directed primarily to non-competitors. bobcolyer@yahoo.com

Dr. Bob Colyer of Bluffton is an actively retired college professor/coach who has written SWIM BETTER:  A Guide to Greater Efficiency for Swimmers & Instructors, directed primarily to non-competitors.   bobcolyer@yahoo.com