Setting specific fitness goals isn’t always successful. So how do we balance our aspirations with realistic expectations?
Many people believe that setting challenging fitness goals – such as running a specific distance or lifting a certain weight – is the secret to exercise success. But is jumping into a fitness regime with the aim of mastering particular workout challenges the recipe for long-term results?
Not if the research is to be believed. Some studies show this kind of goal setting can deliver nothing but disappointment.
The reason could be that people are put off by specific goals that seem unrealistic. Added to that, feeling like a failure is undoubtedly demotivating. The result is then thinking, “I’m never going to achieve that” and ending up back on the couch.
A better approach could be to replace specific goals with the more general aim of seeing how active you can be.
This approach doesn’t mean scrapping a structured approach to fitness altogether. The formula is to start slowly, build gradually, and mix things up.
If you follow this plan, it’s a good idea to set some goals, but keep them achievable. A goal of 150 minutes of physical activity a week is a good place to start – 150 minutes a week is what your body needs to start enjoying the health benefits of exercise. Keep in mind that exercise comes in all sorts of forms; group fitness workouts, walking, cycling or even just choosing to be more active throughout your daily activities.
If you keep your goals realistic and make sure you’re not too hard on yourself, success will come. And as you reach each of your goals, re-evaluate how much time you spend exercising and what you are trying to achieve.