Behavior Change, Exercise

How to Set Fitness Goals

Many people find that having a firm goal in mind motivates them to move ahead on a project. Goals are most useful when they are specific, realistic, and important to you. Be sure to review your goals regularly as you make progress or your priorities change. 

Write down your short-term fitness goals 

Short-term goals will help you make physical activity a regular part of your daily life. For these goals, think about the things you’ll need to get or do to be physically active. 

For example, you may need to buy walking shoes or fill out an activity log so you can figure out how to fit physical activity into your busy day.  

Make sure your short-term goals will really help you be active. Here are a few examples of short-term goals: 

  • Today, I will decide to be more active. 
  • Tomorrow, I will find out about exercise classes in my area. 
  • By the end of this week, I will talk with my friend about exercising with me a couple of times a week. 
  • In the next 2 weeks, I will make sure I have the shoes and comfortable clothes I need to start walking for exercise. 

Write down your long-term goals 

After you write down your short-term goals, you can go on to identify your long-term goals. Focus on where you want to be in 6 months, a year, or 2 years from now. Long-term goals also should be realistic, personal, and important to you.  

Here are a few examples: 

  • By this time next year, I will swim 1 mile three times a week. 
  • Next summer, I will be able to play pitch and catch with my grandchildren. 
  • In 6 months, I will have my blood pressure under control by increasing my physical activity and following my doctor’s advice. 

Write a plan to add exercise and physical activity to your life 

Some people find that writing an exercise and physical activity plan helps them keep their promise to be active, while some people can plunge into a new project without planning ahead. If you choose to make a plan, be sure the plan is realistic for you to do, especially as you gain experience in how to be active.  

You might even make a contract with a friend or family member to carry out your plan. Involving another person can help you keep your commitment. 

Pro Tip: Use this interactive activity planner 

It lets you build a weekly physical activity plan and then print it out. You can choose from a variety of fun and exciting endurance (aerobic) and strength exercises, personalize your activities by location and purpose, and indicate how much of each exercise you will do.  

Once you create your plan, don’t forget to add in balance and flexibility exercises. 

Make Your Activity Plan Now 

Review and update your exercise plan regularly 

Regularly review and update your plan and long-term goals so that you can build on your success. Adjust your plan as you progress or if your schedule changes. You may find that things like vacation or illness can interrupt your physical activity routine.  

Don’t get discouraged! You can start exercising again and be successful.  

Source: National Institute on Aging