Many people make the mistake of setting their fitness goals too high when they embark on an exercise program. This leads them to abandon their plans out of frustration and impatience. Setting manageable goals is key to maintaining a fitness program over time.
If you have been completely sedentary you need to start out your fitness regimen by working towards small and realistic goals. These can be as simple as walking around the block once a day for a week, and adding another block each subsequent week until they reach the 30 minutes recommended by health professionals. A few sessions with a personal trainer can help you set reasonable goals for weight-bearing exercise like weight training. In the beginning focus on overall conditioning rather than building muscle. Check with staff at your gym or fitness center for recommendations about what exercise classes are right for your current fitness level.
When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to make rash promises like exercising every day. It’s hard for even people in top condition to make time each and every day for training. Start off three or four days a week and build up from there. If you’re taking up a new sport like swimming, skiing or golf, consider taking lessons with a professional so that you develop good habits from the beginning.
If you’ve been getting moderate exercise your goals can be a little more ambitious. If you’re walking the recommended 30 minutes per day, why not add hand weights to your routine? This might also be the time to consider adding more weight to your lifting or taking an intermediate fitness course. You may also be ready to speak to a personal trainer about beginning to work on building specific muscle groups.
Once you’ve attained a high level of fitness, then it’s time for some serious goal setting. Plan to run a marathon or participate in a 5K walking event. There are many of these events run to benefit charity, giving a double benefit of both funds raised and health benefits to participants. When preparing for an event of this nature, return to your early habit of setting small, realistic goals. Add miles to your run on a weekly basis until you are able to complete the full distance. Speak with your trainer to establish a regular schedule of weight-bearing exercise that will help improve your stamina and flexibility.