Celebrate by Exercising
It’s just around the corner — April 15 — and unlike the previous two years when that date fell on a Saturday or Sunday, extending the time you had to file your individual tax return, Monday, April 15, 2019 is the deadline to file individual tax returns (Form 1040) for 2018. Not quite ready? You can use Form 4868 to request an automatic extension of six months — but you still have to pay any tax you owe by April 15.
April 15 is also the deadline for a few other IRS-related tasks:
- It’s the last day to make a contribution to a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Health Savings Account, SEP-IRA or solo 401(k) for the 2018 tax year — but you have until October 15 to fund the latter two if you get an extension.
- It’s the day first quarter estimated tax payments are due for the 2019 tax year. Is this something you need to do? Perhaps not — unless you have a lot of income not subject to tax withholding, like self-employment, rental, and investment income as well as capital gains. Making quarterly payments helps avoid owing a lump sum at filing time or incurring an estimated tax penalty, an interest charge for not paying taxes throughout the year.
- It’s the deadline for filing estate income tax or trust income tax returns (Form 1041) or requesting an automatic five-month extension of time to file (Form 7004).
If you’re among those who consider April 15 the day to file, you’re in the home stretch and good luck. If you’ve already filed your taxes, and maybe even have received a refund, it’s time to celebrate — and what better way than starting an exercise regime.
Weird transition? Maybe, but that doesn’t negate the value of the suggestion. Exercising is critical, especially as you age. According to the Mayo Clinic, physical activity can reduce the risk of chronic disease, improve balance and coordination, help lose weight, and even improve sleep habits and self-esteem — and it’s easy to get started in five steps:
- Assess your fitness level. Assessing and recording baseline fitness scores can give you benchmarks against which to measure your progress. To assess your aerobic and muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition, consider recording:
- Your pulse rate before and immediately after walking 1 mile
- How long it takes to walk 1 mile or 400 meters, or how long it takes to run 1.5 miles
- How many half sit-ups, standard pushups or modified pushups you can do at once
- How far you can reach forward while seated on the floor with your legs in front of you
- Your waist circumference, just above your hipbones
- Your body mass index
- Design your fitness program. It’s easy to say you’ll exercise every day, but you need a plan. As you design it, keep these points in mind:
- Consider your fitness goals.
- Create a balanced routine.
- Start low and progress slowly.
- Build activity into your daily routine.
- Plan to include different activities.
- Allow time for recovery.
- Put it on paper.
- Assemble your equipment. This can be as simple as choosing athletic shoes designed for the activity you have in mind. If you’re planning to invest in equipment, choose something practical, enjoyable and easy to use — maybe going for a “test drive” at a gym, if possible, before making a purchase. You might consider using fitness apps for smart devices or other activity tracking devices, such as ones that can track your distance, track calories burned or monitor your heart rate.
- Get started. As you begin your fitness program, keep these tips in mind:
- Start slowly and build up gradually.
- Break things up if you have to.
- Be creative.
- Listen to your body.
- Be flexible.
- Monitor your progress. Retake your personal fitness assessment six weeks after you start your program and again every few months. You may notice you need to increase the amount of time you exercise to continue improving — or you may be pleasantly surprised to find you’re exercising just the right amount to meet your fitness goals. If you lose motivation, set new goals or try a new activity. Exercising with a friend or taking a class may help, too.