By Melanie Carvell

Was becoming more active on your list of goals for 2018? My 2018 health focus includes more strength training. I get some great built-in cardio workouts teaching indoor cycling classes, but it takes a little more effort on my part to work on strength, flexibility, and balance. I always plan to fit it in at home, but it doesn’t always happen. Sound familiar?

What is the best way to ensure we keep our workouts going? What is the best motivator for success?  The number one reason folks start exercising is—you guessed it—to lose weight. Unfortunately, choosing to begin exercising to lose weight is the LEAST helpful in motivating us to continue to stay active. Weight loss and other health metrics such as healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol are critically important, but the promise of better health “down the road” does not always help us to get out of bed and get moving today. We are much more likely to sustain healthy behaviors if they are essential to our lives in more immediate and noticeable ways. Rather than focusing on the scale, focus on the daily positive rewards of being active; connecting with others, decreasing stress, restoring energy, and improving focus. As a result, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it, which in turn gives us a chance to benefit from better health metrics.

So, what can help us keep pedaling down the road to better health? The number one predictor of optimal physical, mental, and spiritual health is how connected we are with others. Being connected with others is just as important to health as regular exercise, stress management, and choosing a healthy diet. If we have strong social connections we are twice as likely to have a healthy heart profile. Connectedness strengthens our immune system, decreases inflammation, helps us recover from disease faster, and lowers our levels of anxiety and depression. The number one exercise adherence tool? You guessed it—socialization. Most important weight loss tool? Peer support. Most critical component in overcoming addiction? Peer mentorship. Together we are always stronger!

Rather than thinking of exercise as just a necessary tool for weight loss, let’s move forward, looking beyond that. Think of daily activity as your personal “power source” that can fuel the rest of your most important roles in life. 

Melanie lives in Bismarck with her husband, Charles, and her dog, Case. She is an author, health and wellness speaker, and grand- mother of six. She loves sharing her fitness enthusiasm with others and hopes to see you in one of her cycling classes soon.