It’s just one week into 2020, but some New Year’s resolutions might have already fallen by the wayside.

According to U.S. News & World Report, as many as 80% of New Year’s resolutions have failed by February, as people struggle to convert an aspiration into a lasting lifestyle change.

So what can people do if they want their new goals to stick? One of the top recommendations by experts is to focus on small, manageable steps.

Chris Madrigal, wellness coordinator at Good Shepherd Health Care System in Hermiston, said when it comes to exercise, people need to focus on consistency instead of overdoing it right away and then getting discouraged.

“Don’t go in cold turkey,” he said. “I tell people, you didn’t get unhealthy and out of shape in one day. It’s going to take some time to reverse it, too.”

Madrigal, a certified personal trainer, helps teach wellness classes hosted by Good Shepherd, such as Work-Out Herd. The free exercise class will run Mondays from 5-6 p.m. at the Dance Unlimited studio in Hermiston starting next Monday.

Local gyms always report an uptick in memberships and usage in January, as people feel unhealthy or worry about their weight gain after overindulging on food over the holidays.

While purchasing exercise equipment or a gym membership and going it alone is certainly better than not exercising at all, Madrigal said taking a class or working with a personal trainer can help people make sure they’re exercising safely and effectively.

Madrigal said exercise can lead to changes in physique, but it is vital to pair it with better nutritional choices as well to make lasting changes in overall health, such as lower blood pressure.

“If you do not have your nutrition in check, you’re just kind of spinning your wheels,” he said.

Having a workout buddy or buddies to keep you accountable also helps.

“People like being part of a team, part of a tribe, so to speak,” Madrigal said.

The team aspect is part of what inspired the Resolution Run, an annual fun run/walk at Riverfront Park in Hermiston each year on New Year’s Day. There’s no stopwatch, no registration and no requirement to stick to the route — just an opportunity for people to share in a healthy kickoff to the new year.

Tim Beal, one of the organizers, said one of goals of the event is to help connect people with someone who might be interested in running or walking with them in the future.

“Trying to just grit it out and do everything yourself, I think we know that for most of us that is not sustainable,” he said.

Beal said another hurdle to exercising can be cold, dark, wet weather that makes it difficult to do outdoor activities. Finding ways to stay fit year-round is important, and so is finding forms of exercise you enjoy.

“A lot of people choose an exercise they don’t like, like running, and that can be a big barrier,” Beal said.

For some, disabilities, age, injury or other health issues can also cause problems.

Madrigal said when he teaches classes at Good Shepherd he helps people learn to modify traditional exercises to fit their needs.

Jessica Reker, community health educator for Good Shepherd, listed other classes that will be offered in spring of 2020, and one is a “Balance Matters” six-week course offered January through March, plus a condensed seminar in April on preventing falls.

The classes will include goals of increased activity for participants and exercises to improve strength and balance.

Reker said she has also heard from members of area senior centers that they would like to see a “chair yoga” class that offers the benefits of yoga to seniors who might not be up to more traditional poses on the floor. Chair yoga is also sometimes used by professionals who like to stretch at their desk.

Reker said other classes offered by Good Shepherd this spring aren’t always obvious “exercise” classes, but can help with staying fit.

Learning how to live with chronic pain, improve quality of sleep and manage stress can help people feel ready for exercise.

The same goes for keeping other goals, such as starting a new hobby or learning a new language. Stress and poor health can make people feel like flopping down on the couch and watching television every day after work instead of pursuing their goals.

“If you’re just stressed out and can’t manage that, you’re never going to make those goals,” Reker said.

“You’re just going to feel overwhelmed all the time.”

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