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Fitness as your body fluctuates

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

It's late January now, so how are those New Year's resolutions coming? One of the most common goals is to improve your health - get fit, exercise, just move more. It's also common to stop after a few weeks or maybe even just one workout. For whatever reason, we just can't keep going. Maybe our bodies have changed from aging or injury or illness or other ways, and that's pretty normal. Reporter Aja Drain spoke with a personal trainer who redefines exercise and says it's about meeting ourselves where we are.

AJA DRAIN, BYLINE: As a lifelong dancer, I was devastated to be couch-ridden for months after a back injury. But while scrolling through TikTok, I found a personal trainer who really spoke to me.

(SOUNDBITE OF TIKTOK VIDEO)

SAMANTHA SALVAGGIO: With a chronic illness, being able to move your body may not always be the easiest. It may not move in the way you want it to. It may tire quickly. But moving with intention makes a difference in your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

DRAIN: That's Samantha Salvaggio, an NASM-certified personal trainer, patient leader and behavior change specialist. Salvaggio was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had to change her relationship with exercise. My injury is temporary and vastly different from her lifelong condition, but Salvaggio's insights made me realize that no matter what your condition, our bodies all go through changes at some point. She says to design and adaptable fitness plan, put the big goals on the back burner and focus on the smaller ones day to day.

SALVAGGIO: If you're focusing on - just on the end result, it can be really hard to see, like, the small progress that you're making throughout that can really just serve as motivation versus just focusing on the end result and then being discouraged that you're not there.

DRAIN: Salvaggio says think about it like this - one step at a time can still get you to your goal.

SALVAGGIO: If you just take off a sheet of paper towel off of a roll every day, you're not going to really notice any change. Like, it's so small you won't notice. But then over the course of a month, you're going to run out of paper towels.

DRAIN: We know that the key to progress in fitness is consistency. So to stay motivated, try tracking all of your movement activities not just your workouts. Physical activity is defined as any movement not just exercise workouts, according to the National Health Interview Survey. Cleaning the house, running errands, gardening, going for a run, lifting weights - it all matters, and it all adds up. Salvaggio kept a little planner where she wrote down everything.

SALVAGGIO: Being able to, like, look back that week or that month and see all these little times that I moved just was really empowering because it's, like, wow, that's a promise I'm keeping to myself. And it was more motivating to, like, continue.

DRAIN: Before you know it, those small goals become the big ones you had sitting on the back burner this whole time. And even if you have setbacks, Salvaggio says when you're trying to bounce back, don't try to overdo it. Start small.

SALVAGGIO: Let's just do five minutes and start and then see how we feel after that. Sometimes I'll go for another five minutes and then end up stopping. Sometimes I end up doing the whole thing. And then other times it's just like, no, this is not the thing today.

DRAIN: And that's OK. You'll get to where you want to go, but you have to meet yourself where you are first. For NPR News, I'm Aja Drain.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DETROW: Life Kit has more ideas about how to start your new year off right. You can check out Life Kit's Resolution Planner. You can choose areas of your life you want to focus on, and the tool will guide you to some of Life Kit's best tips on that topic. You can find it at npr.org/newyear.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Aja Drain