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New Year, New You

Many Americans are beginning the new decade by populating gyms across the country.

This trend, each year, happens as a part of individual’s New Year’s resolutions to have or maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Obviously, New Year’s resolutions are really helpful with getting people back in shape and this is a popular time for people to have goals of losing weight or improved health,” said Princeton Spine and Joint Center’s Director of Sports Medicine Scott Curtis, M.D. “One piece of advice I give patients, is just use common sense first and foremost.”

According to Curtis, jumping into aggressive exercises right away can be problematic.

“A lot of people start getting back into exercise on Jan. 1, because they took time off during the holiday season from the gym. Unfortunately, people put on some weight and they want to lose that,” Curtis said. “They feel like they have to lose it all right away, which is both unrealistic and sometimes unsafe. I counsel patients on gradually getting back into an exercise program.”

Curtis recommends that individuals start out with exercising two to three times per week for sessions between 30-45 minutes.

“Do not over do this right away. When you over do your exercises, you are prone to developing either acute injuries or overuse/chronic injuries, because you are doing too many exercises too quickly,” Curtis said. “You have to start out slow and gradually build up to your tolerance.”

He added that with New Year’s resolutions, people should make ones that they will stick with.

“Too many people will get excited in the month of January. Then the month of February and March, they fall back into a pattern of not exercising so much. One way we get around that is by sticking with an exercise you enjoy doing,” Curtis said. “Whether that is walking, running, weight lifting, Zumba classes or yoga – do something that you will find enjoyable and stressful.”

A combination of cardiovascular exercises, resistance training and flexibility exercises are highlighted by Curtis as great ways for overall health and a healthy lifestyle.

“One of the most important factors I counsel patients on, is that it is not just the activity itself that is beneficial, but a proper warmup and cool down,” Curtis said. “This is a great way to get the cardiovascular system going, muscles filled with oxygen and hopefully prevent injury. You want to get into a regular routine with goals set in mind.”

Some aging seniors are also making changes to begin the new year, which include their overall health and well being.

According to a 2018 American Association of Retired Persons survey, three out of four adults age 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.

A new Capital Health program is aiding seniors of Mercer, Bucks and Burlington Counties in achieving this goal to begin the new year. The program, titled, Capital Healthy Living, is led by David Dafilou.

Dafilou is the vice president and chief administrative officer of the clinically integrated network at Capital Health.

According to Dafilou, the program is custom designed to empower seniors stay independent and in their homes.

“Capital Healthy Living is designed to provide support services, some additional non-medical capabilities, that remove obstacles for seniors to remain healthy. This involves transportation, preferred access to care, engagement and coaching, social and wellness activities and assessment,” Dafilou said.

Dafilou highlighted some of the Capital Healthy Living components.

“Assessment is a really important part of this. It tailors the program to the needs of the participant. Every person is different and has different goals,” Dafilou said. “We need to know what our participant’s goals, resources and interests are. We would do these assessments on a routine basis, at least annually and probably semi-annually.”

He continued to detail the social and wellness component of the program.

“Prevention is obviously critical. Exercise – we want people moving, active and engaged in activities. Seniors can sometimes get very isolated, so we want to connect participants of the program either at social events or wellness programs,” he said. “We set up participants with an annual training session with a wellness trainer and they set up an exercise regiment. They get a program that they can do at home, or at our wellness center.”

According to Dafilou, they are looking to begin the program in the second quarter of 2020.

“This program helps provide seniors and their families to continue to live the way they want to live. There are seniors who manage pretty well on their own,” Dafilou said. “It is the unknown of what the new year will bring, somebody gets sick or if someone is banged up, services such as this are a great safety net for seniors in the new year.”

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