At the beginning of 2020, I saw several social media posts about the merits of not making firm resolutions for the year ahead. While having goals and making plans can be highly effective, and some people find them essential, other people find that setting targets and beginning a project can quickly give way to feelings of defeat if things don’t go as planned.
A softer but still effective way of approaching health goals is to think in terms of incorporating small habits into your routine. Focusing on just one or just a few positive changes at a time, and then practicing these new habits, can soon make them a part of everyday life.
A couple of habits that I’ve personally had success with are waking early to read and start the day with quiet intention, and eating a balanced and healthy breakfast. After hearing a lot about the benefits of even small amounts of exercise, I feel that my whole outlook this winter has benefited from taking this advice to heart.
My busy schedule allows for fewer opportunities for formal exercise than I’d like, but rather than become discouraged, I’ve incorporated small doses of movement into my days, with positive benefits.
The three-mile walks that I enjoy in milder months have been replaced by brisk one-mile loops through a series of local cul-de-sacs.
I keep a yoga mat in my bedroom so I can practice some techniques,
exercises and poses pulled from a combination of books, videos, and classes I’ve taken in ballet, yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi.
I’ve counted getting out of the house on dark winter evenings to vigorously groom and work with my horse as part of my weekly exercise as well.
The best part of all of this? These activities have resulted in some tangible benefits of movement, including feeling more limber, awake and content.
Science backs this up, and while there are too many books on the health benefits of exercise to list here, one new title is on my must-read list—Kelly McGonigal’s The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage.
It specifically focuses on the social and emotional benefits of physical activity. Find this title and many more at cadl.org/catalog.
Cheryl Lindemann is a collection development specialist at Capital Area District Libraries and a co-host of the Reader’s Roundtable Podcast.