Cycling Class at the Gym

Research-backed tips to help you get fit

(BPT) – A new year and a new you — that’s the theme of this season, right? So how are you going to improve yourself in 2018? If you’re like many people, weight loss is at the top of your list, and maybe you’ve already picked out your diet and your exercise plan.

Now you need a strategy to help you stick to your resolutions. And that can be easier said than done.

Sticking with any wellness plan can be tough, particularly if you aren’t seeing immediate results. But you have to trust the process. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the new you. Creating your best self takes perseverance and guidance, but it can be difficult to sort through all the information available. To get started, here are some research-backed tips that can help you meet your goals so that you’ll be on the right path to your best self yet.

Cut the sugar

Beyond weight loss, changes to our diet can have profound impacts on our overall health. For example, avoiding fructose, found in most processed foods, will leave you fundamentally healthier in just nine days, according to research found in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA).

Low-carb beats low-fat diets

Chances are you’ve debated these diets yourself, so consider this fact: A scientific review published in the JAOA finds that low-carb dieters shed anywhere from 2.5 to 9 pounds more than those on low-fat diets. Give it a try and see how you do.

Work out with friends

Need that little extra push to tackle your daily workout? Make it a team effort. People who work out with friends reported a 26.2 percent reduction in their stress levels and they also experienced a boost to their mental, physical and emotional quality of life, according to recent research. So grab a friend — it’s good for your workout and for you.

If you get hurt, don’t walk it off

Accidents happen and when they do, you should err on the side of caution and seek a professional opinion. Avoiding proper diagnosis and treatment may cause you to end up suffering from larger problems later. This may include arthritis, chronic pain and even disability, according to a clinical review. If you get hurt, the best way to get back on your feet quickly is to first get off them and seek help right away.

Soak up the sun … safely

Exercising outside is great. Just don’t forget to slather on a good layer of sunscreen to protect your skin against the sun’s damaging rays. However, keep in mind that sunscreen decreases vitamin D3 production by 99 percent, according to a study published in the JAOA. This can lead to problems like muscle weakness and bone fractures. To counteract that deficiency, let your skin be exposed to the midday sun for a short time — no more than 30 minutes, depending on your skin’s pigmentation — before applying your sunscreen for the rest of your workout.

Find the right doctor for you

No matter your fitness goals, finding a doctor you trust will help. Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) consider the health of the whole person and focus on wellness and injury/illness prevention as part of their standard care. A DO believes the mind, body and emotional state all contribute to the health of the patient, and they can be an effective partner in realizing the new you.

To learn more, visit doctorsthatdo.org.