Kick Start 2017
February 3, 2017

Kick Start 2017

The New Year always seems to bring with it a revved-up ambition and willingness to become a better you. Maintaining that willingness throughout the year however, is the tough part. Setting and achieving your health and fitness goals does not have to be and should not be a complicated process. In this article, I will mention a few things to stay on top of that will assist you in achieving your fitness goals and make 2017 your healthiest year yet!


Exercise has various benefits. First and foremost, it helps with maintenance of a healthy weight, prevents and even combats various diseases, can better mood, increase energy levels, decrease stress levels, promote quality sleep, and overall add fun to your life!

It helps not to tackle this one on your own. A workout partner keeps you both accountable and motivated. It is also important to mix it up and keep it fresh! This will keep the process exciting, making it easier to stick to your plan. Incorporate Aerobic (endurance), resistance (strength), and interval training (short but fast) into your weekly routine to develop an all-round fitness that will enable you to take on any challenge!

Aerobic or endurance training will include longer, steady-state workouts such as cycling or running. Aerobic training will be responsible for burning calories as well as developing a fitness base. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), 2014 recommend a minimum of 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity 5 days a week or a minimum of 20-60 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise 3 days a week. Varying the intensities each day is a great way to achieve the recommended guidelines.

Strength or resistance training generally include weight training and is important for building muscle. The more muscle you have the stronger you are and the more calories you burn at rest – it’s a win-win! The ACSM, 2014 recommend that 8-10 exercises incorporating large muscle groups are performed on 2-3 days per week with at least 48 hours between sessions to allow for sufficient recovery.

Interval training has really picked up steam as of late. It is a time efficient means to train and gives the most bang for buck! Popularly, this type of training has been coined High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. HIIT or interval training combines short bursts of explosive efforts followed by short fixed rest periods. High intensity training has shown to elicit the same and even more benefit than normal endurance training (Helgerud et al. 2007). It also allows one to perform a significant amount of intense exercise, that would not be achievable if exercise intensity followed a gradual progression (McArdle et al. 2010). An example of a HIIT session would be 30 seconds all out sprint followed by 1 minute 30 seconds of rest or active rest (walking/light jog) for 10 reps.

It can be easy with the new ambition synonymous with the New Year to set extravagant goals but this may lead to discouragement along the way they are not achieved. It is important to keep the bigger picture in mind, but, setting micro-goals and celebrating small milestones is a more sustainable approach. Never underestimate the power of small improvements!

The Power of Timy Gains
Image 1: The Power of Tiny Gains

At the end of the day, it is important to get out and utilize that fitness. Fitness is not restricted to the four walls of the gym, enjoy it!


Nutrition can often be a daunting subject. There are a few principles that one can keep in mind that will enable good, clean eating.

  • Avoid all processed foods (this may be difficult to do cold turkey so easing into it is recommended).
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Avoid added sugar and sugary drinks – a single can of coke contains 7 teaspoons of sugar!
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day.
  • Fish, chicken, lean meats and/or eggs can be eaten daily.
  • Legumes such as lentils and chickpeas are a great source of fibre and protein.
  • Substitute high GI foods (white bread, short-grain rice etc.) for low GI foods (oatmeal, sweet potato – baked etc.). These will keep you fuller for longer and not cause such a spike in insulin.

The initial change in diet may be a shock to the system, but hang tight and you will reap the rewards. A clean diet = more energy, a clearer mind, maintenance of a healthy bodyweight, and will augment your training goals!


Sleep plays a significant role in your health! It affects more than we think and can often be an overlooked part of a healthy lifestyle. It is imperative to aim for 8 hours of sleep a night.

Per the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the United States, 2012 sleep is important for:

  • Healthy brain function and emotional well-being – Sleep improves learning, decision-making, emotion, and problem solving.
  • Physical health – chronic lack of sleep has been strongly linked to higher risks of heart disease, kidney disease, high-blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
  • Daytime performance and safety – sufficient sleep is imperative for optimal performance throughout the day.

Avoiding electronics an hour before bed and/or reading a light book prior to bed may help one achieve a better quality of sleep. Also, sticking to a sleep schedule will get the body use to going to bed and waking at a certain time.

Final thoughts

As you begin your new year, look back on just how much you have achieved. 2017 is a year full of opportunity for learning and growth. Develop a sound plan, include some friends, and enjoy the process. Achieving goals is great, but it is the process in which the real growth happens. May 2017 be a year full of health, fitness and fun!

For more information contact the UP Biokinetics Rehabilitation at 012 420 6033 or visit our website


American College of Sports Medicine, 2014. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription 8th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Helgerud, J., Hoydal, K., Wang, E., Karlsen, T., Berg, P., Bjerkaas, M., Simonsen, T., Helgesen, C., Hjorth, N., Bach, R., & Hoff, J., 2007. Aerobic high-intensity intervals improve VO2max more than moderate training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 39(4), pp.665–671.

McArdle, W.D., Katch, F.I., & L., K. V., 2010. Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance 7th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. 2012. Why is Sleep Important? [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 17 January 2017].

The Nutrition Society of South Africa. 2012. The New South African Food-based Dietary Guidelines in Perspective. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 17 January 2017]


Image 1: James Clear. 2015. The Power of Tiny Gains. James Clear. Available at: [Accessed 17 January 17, 2017]

By Johan Young - Intern Biokineticist, University of Pretoria Biokinetics Rehabilitation