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Staying Active in the New Year

As we move through February and New Year’s resolutions begin to wane, I decided to reach out to River Valley Regional YMCA Senior Program Director Rachel Bryant for ideas on how people can get and stay active.

Dave: Rachel, first of all, why is it important for everyone to stay active and exercise?

Rachel: Good health is one of life’s most valuable resources, and staying active by incorporating weekly exercise and movement is a major key to maintaining good health. As we’ve seen after making it to the other side of a worldwide pandemic, there are many factors that can lead to a life of disease. We don’t have control over our genetic makeup, but we do have control over what we fuel our bodies with and what activities make up our time.

Dave: If someone is new to exercise or has been inactive, why should they start slow?

Rachel: When starting anything new, you want to start at a lower intensity to decrease the risk of injury. It’s important to learn what activities and movements will be safe and effective, as everyone has a different starting point and health history to take into consideration. Over time, resistance, speed, and duration can be increased to elevate the intensity of the workout.

Dave: What are some good examples of different types of exercise?

Rachel: There are a few different fitness components to keep in mind when creating a well-rounded physical activity program. Cardiovascular endurance includes playing pickleball, riding a bike, and swimming laps. These are activities where you bring your heart rate above resting for an extended period of time.

Muscular strength and muscular endurance would include activities such as strength training with hand weights and resistance bands where you work to increase both the number of times you can work against a load as well the size of that load.

Flexibility training would include activities like yoga and stretching after an activity to increase the range of motion of your joints. Improving flexibility can help to decrease the risk of injury and improve movement in everyday activities.

Dave: Why is it important to find a type of exercise you find fun?

Rachel: Exercise doesn’t have to be found just in a gym by running on a treadmill or lifting weights. It can be playing a sport or just moving with your kids and grandkids. It’s important to find an exercise that you enjoy and that you can realistically engage in so that you continue to participate in the activity. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re going to find excuses to stop the activity. To create a lifelong healthy habit, it may take trying a bunch of activities before you find your favorite or most effective form.

Dave: If someone needs some additional help, they sometimes consider hiring a professional fitness trainer. Can you discuss some of the benefits of hiring a fitness trainer?

Rachel: It’s hard to know where to start as there are so many ways to move. Also, each person has specific health considerations that need to be evaluated to ultimately choose safe and effective ways to exercise. A personal trainer can review health history, short and long-term goals and help start you on a path to success. Not only can they inform you what exercises to incorporate into your individualized program, but they can make sure you’re performing them with proper and safe techniques. A personal trainer also has a lot to offer in the way of accountability and motivation. Once you make an appointment, you’re obligated to keep it, and once you get there, they’ll be your biggest cheerleader and encourager.

For more information on exercise programming, Rachel can be contacted at or 570-323-7134.