Exercise is a powerful part of wellness. It not only helps you manage your weight, but also reduces your risk of many diseases. According to the CDC, moderate-intensity aerobic activity helps prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. If you don’t have much time to exercise, here’s some good news: Even intervals as short as four seconds can make a difference.

Exercise has mental health benefits, too. Studies show that physical activity is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety, and it helps people recover from traumatic experiences. The events of 2020 were traumatic for many people, and regular exercise is a great way to lower your stress level and lift your mood.

While exercise is only one aspect of wellness, it’s one many people focus on at the start of the new year. Getting back to regular exercise can be difficult with gyms closed, but you can still get a good workout at home. If you’re planning to exercise more in 2021, here’s how to get the most out of your workouts:

1.Prepare ahead of time. When you’re excited about a new fitness plan, it’s easy to overdo it. Instead, start slow and ease into it. Talk to your doctor before you get started, so you’re aware of potential risks. This is especially important if you have preexisting conditions. Your doctor can help you choose an exercise plan that’s right for you, based on your health and fitness goals. They can also recommend a workout frequency and intensity level. Dr. Ricky Singh, a specialist in sports medicine and Co-Director of the Center of Comprehensive Spine Care, notes that it is important for women to take rest days and change up their routines. Want help finding the best doctor for a pre-workout checkup? Call Better Health Advisors.

2. Take full advantage of your insurance benefits. Chances are, your health insurance plan includes wellness benefits, and Better Health Advisors can help you make sense of them. If you’re thinking of joining a gym or buying exercise equipment, we can review the details of your plan and help you make the smartest choices. Depending on your plan, you may be entitled to health coaching, nutrition counseling, personal training, or discounts on gym memberships and exercise classes, among other things.

3. Utilize household items. If you do not have equipment at home and can’t go to a gym, you can get creative. Shape Magazine offers suggestions for household alternatives to weights that can be used for exercise. There are also many workouts that do not require equipment, such as yoga, or exercises that use your body weight as resistance. Look for videos on websites such as YouTube.

4. Get outside. Although it may not be as easy during the winter months, try to get outside as often as possible. Getting outside for a safely distanced walk or jog is beneficial for both your physical and mental health.

5. Listen to your body. If you feel pain after starting a new fitness routine or after repeated workouts, should you worry? Many exercise-related injuries are mild and can be cared for at home, but it can be hard to tell a sore muscle from something more serious. If you’re unsure how to treat a minor injury, want professional help with an ongoing or more serious condition, or have questions about when it’s safe to start exercising again, Better Health Advisors can put you in touch with experts in sports medicine.