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MU Professor Says There's No "Finish Line" When Conquering Resolutions

Advises pushing through muscle soreness

Jan. 28, 2008

Story Contact:  Jennifer Faddis, (573) 882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – As the New Year approached, many were motivated to establish resolutions to get in shape and shed pounds for the upcoming warmer months. However, for most, instead of maintaining enthusiasm and vigor with workout regimens throughout the year, resolutions dissolve and pounds don’t. Muscle soreness can play a big role in making New Year fitness resolutions fizzle, according to a physical therapist at the University of Missouri.

 New beginnings are always good times for change; however, it’s difficult for many not to throw in the towel on their exercise routine when feeling the aches and pains of training without seeing immediate results, according to Stephen Sayers, an assistant professor of physical therapy in the MU School of Health Professions.
  “Changes that occur with exercise, such as weight loss or gain in muscle, are usually a slow process,” Sayers explained. “Losing weight and changing the body with exercise takes time. Most people are impatient with this process and are not prepared to make the investment of time and effort for so few immediate returns.”

 Another source of discouragement for people beginning an exercise program is the development of muscle soreness, which is most prevalent when participating in exercises that are unfamiliar to the muscles. Sayers advises beginning a new program slowly to give the muscles the opportunity to adapt to the increased stress. Additionally, resistance levels should be increased with caution in order to avoid damaging the muscle. Minor muscle aches and discomfort are an inevitable component of exercise and it’s crucial to continue exercising, even when muscles are sore, because exercising a sore muscle tends to diminish the discomfort.

 “What people also need to understand is with exercise there is no ‘finish line,’” Sayers said. “You are never at a point where you can say ‘I am healthy and fit and no longer have to exercise.’”

 Preserving a healthy body through exercise results from behavioral change and a lifelong commitment. While it may take some time and effort to attain a certain level of fitness, maintaining that level eventually requires less time and effort. Thus, as time passes it becomes easier to live a healthy and fit lifestyle, he said.

 “Exercising for health and fitness must be approached like a marriage,” Sayers said. “It is something that has to be worked on for the rest of your life.”