Build Healthier Habits in the New Year sarah December 28, 2023

Build Healthier Habits in the New Year


By Anna Hall

Exercise is essential for our bodies and our minds. It improves our overall health, stamina and muscle strength. More importantly, exercising consistently reduces anxiety symptoms, improves mood, reduces a range of behaviors, and supports regulation of our emotions. When we exercise, our body naturally releases the feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. Endorphins support our body when we feel pain or stress and naturally increase our overall happiness.  

A person takes a break from an exercise class to smile at the camera. They are wearing exercise clothing and red headphones and holding a game controller while others are visible standing on yoga mats and talking or stretching.

Completing a workout is also a chance to practice independence. You can decide when and how long to workout and what type of exercise to do. Building a routine can lead to a more positive body and mind.  

A good goal is at least two days of muscle strengthening activity and 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. Moderate-intensity physical activity is something that challenges your body and increases your heart rate. This could be dancing, a brisk walk, or completing 20 jumping jacks in a row without stopping.  

To see results, it’s essential to set realistic and achievable goals. Consider taking ten minutes every day to work toward your goal and build up from there. Small changes make a big difference to support your overall health and well-being. 

Physical activity includes a large range of activities—think of it simply as moving more and sitting less! Here are some specific exercises to try:  

  1. Squat to Chair: Protect your knees by keeping your legs bent at 90°. 
  2. Seated Hamstring Stretch: Keep your leg straight while reaching toward your toes. 
  3. Seated Leg Extension: Lift your foot out straight, hinging at the knee. 
  4. Seated Arm Circles: Make big and small circles. Go clockwise and then counterclockwise.
  5. Arms Overhead March: Keep your spine neutral as you march with your knees in the air. Try holding a water bottle overhead for an extra challenge.

Anna Hall is a fitness instructor, who offers one-on-one instruction and group exercise classes for people with disabilities. Email to learn more.

A woman performing various exercises using a chair in a gymnasium. She is wearing a light gray hoodie and black leggings using a blue chair.