Setting Your Fitness Goals
Chances are that
at least once a year you vow to commit to an exercise program. If you’ve had
some trouble with the follow-through, you’re certainly in good company. Yet
there are so many compelling reasons to make the commitment again and stick
has a different reason for losing momentum. The bottom line is that if getting
fit is important to you, it’s never too late to begin a fitness regimen. You
can fit in a day’s workout in less time than it takes to watch the nightly
news. In fact, you can do it while you watch the news. If you follow the
recommendations of organizations such as the American Council on Exercise
(ACE) and the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), what you need to improve your heart health and
reduce your risk of all kinds of other diseases is a total of 150 minutes of
exercise per week. When and how you fit these minutes into your regular routine
is entirely up to you.
So start today,
and use these tips to help you make exercise part of your routine.
Set a SMART Goal
According to ACE, a
SMART goal is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant.
Also, the goal must be one that is bound by a deadline, or done in a specific
amount of time.
Meeting goals is satisfying, and fitness experts say it helps build
momentum. Just pay close attention to the “attainable” part of this equation. An
unrealistic goal only sets you up to fail. Instead of challenging yourself to
exercise daily for 30 minutes when on some days you can’t even get in 15, look
at your schedule and find two days that you can realistically boost your
workout time to 30 minutes. It all adds up to get you toward your goal of 150
minutes for the week.
Vow to Take More Steps Every Day
For nearly a decade, public health experts at the CDC have
urged Americans to take 10,000 steps every day. But we’re falling short. A 2004 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and
Exercise found that a typical American woman takes just 5,210 steps a day, and
a man takes around 7,000. Incidentally, the 10,000 mark comes out to about five
miles a day, and people who walk that much are considered “active.” Those who
get in 12,500 steps a day are “highly active.”
Even if weight loss isn’t your goal,
you should still aim to increase your daily mileage to achieve or maintain
overall good health. In a recent study in
the Journal of the American Medical
Association, researchers asked healthy young men to significantly reduce
the number of steps they took each day. They dropped from an average of 6,203
to 1,344 steps a day. Within two weeks the subjects’ insulin levels rose by
nearly 60 percent, putting them at risk for diabetes. Their amounts of
abdominal fat increased by seven percent even though they hadn’t gained any
Make Fitness a Lifestyle, Not a Fad
Many people make the mistake of going hard toward
fitness goals, but slacking off once they’ve been achieved. They see fitness as
a means to an end, not a way to live their life. This can lead to health
problems and weight gain. Failing to see fitness as a lifestyle choice means
you won’t reap the long-term benefits of regular exercise.
Sure, exercise can help you lose weight in the
short term. But an active lifestyle provides lasting benefits. It can reduce your
risk for potential health complications like high blood pressure, diabetes, and
heart disease, and contributes to better overall health and wellbeing.