YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Remember that New Year’s resolution you made back in the dreary days of January to shed those extra pounds you put on over the holidays?

Well, it’s now almost the end of March, and spring has sprung.

But those who slacked off throughout the first part of the year shouldn’t lose heart. The arrival of spring brings warmer weather, daylight past 5 p.m. and a chance to try again.

"A lot of people that make resolutions in January, but it’s still dark and cold out and they lose motivation," said Maj. PeggyAnn Cain, flight commander of health promotions at Yokota’s Health and Wellness Center.

But getting into better shape — and staying that way — takes commitment and discipline.

A 2007 report from the American College of Sports Medicine advocates 30 to 60 minutes of exercise five days a week to reduce certain health risks caused by not exercising, she said. For weight loss the time increases to 60 to 90 minutes five days a week.

However, for those just starting out or trying to get back into shape, that doesn’t mean running five miles and lifting weights for an hour.

"When it comes to exercise it all depends on where you are physically," said Cain, explaining that a common mistake she sees is people taking on too much at once.

One way to gauge where you are physically is by getting a MicroFit assessment. MicroFit technology is used at most U.S. military installations as well as in several government agencies.

The computer program measures several elements of fitness including strength, flexibility, aerobic capacity and body mass index, said Tech. Sgt. Duan McMillan, a health technician at Yokota’s Fitness Center.

The program also asks lifestyle questions, such as whether the client smokes, and uses the information to assess the person’s physical fitness. McMillan said that the assessments are open to all active-duty military, but an appointment is required for base civilians, family members 16 and older, and local nationals assigned to Yokota.

"It’s a great way to start, to find your baseline," said Cain, who added that the program stores a person’s information so they can track progress.

Once you’ve figured out where you are physically, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a suitable exercise program; military fitness centers offer a broad range, from aerobics to Zumba.

"There’s pretty much something for everyone," Cain said.

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