We won’t stay the same.

Even with its unique challenges and changes, 2020 went by fast. 2021 will too. Life and time don’t allow us to stay the same. We can improve ourselves in 2021 or we will decline.

Because it’s January, lots of folks have good intentions (resolutions) for the New Year! And many of those will focus on health and fitness. Experience tells me (and probably tells you) that a lot of those good intentions won’t make it through February. This year I’m suggesting we prioritize so even that month or two will have some lasting benefit.

In addition to following the guidelines to prevent being a spreader of this ubiquitous virus even further, let’s make our first priority to address any areas of pain and/or discomfort. If you’ve been putting something off because it’s inconvenient, it adds another thing to pay daily attention to, it’s expensive, it will require some rehab, etc., these days of personal restriction and altered lifestyle may be the best time to take action. Temporary interruptions are part of life; this is just another one. Let’s make the best of it.

Next, consider responsible maintenance. For instance, I’ve been encouraged (and have so far avoided) wearing those invisible braces to straighten my teeth. This won’t benefit me immediately so I keep kicking that can down the road. But if I jump-start it in January, that will have more lasting benefit to my health than say, increasing my pullups or my running mileage. Take a look at things you may have been putting off and start the ball rolling.

Now let’s break down the areas we all need to focus on.

  • Strength
  • Stability
  • Balance
  • Posture
  • Joint range of motion.

A lot of crowded exercise facilities are closed or just don’t feel safe, so many of you are limited to working out at home with minimal equipment. It’s temporary. Keep it simple. Do no harm. Be patient. You’ll be starting or restarting your regular exercise routine as soon as it’s safe, but for now just choose a few basic strength and stability moves. Do a few pushups, lunges, planks and back bridges. Every day.

Practicing balance can be as simple as standing on one foot/leg for 30 seconds. No problem for you? Great! Now try it with your eyes closed.

For posture: if your day involves a lot of sitting while curled forward over a computer, stand up every 30 minutes and stand as tall as you can. Hold that for 30 seconds. Push the top of your head to the ceiling.

Joint range of motion: Remember, keep it safe. Every day gently move your arms in all directions, no momentum, no swinging them, just reach slowly up, down, all around. Lift your knees high while marching in place.

While none of that is as good for you as a well designed exercise program, think of it as a pre-requisite that will help prepare you for more activity after we’re all vaccinated and ready to go!

Our goal is to have a maximum of health span years so our life span has a minimum of years spent in pain or discomfort. Staying active as I just described contributes to that. Improvement doesn’t happen in giant steps. Be consistent and be safe. 2022 will be here way too soon. Be better when it arrives.