It’s so easy to begin an exercise program with the intention of getting fitter. Many have this as a New Year resolution. How many are still going by February? Getting fitter holds plenty of significant health benefits for the pursuer, whether you intend to lose the extra holiday pounds, drop a significant amount of weight, increase your fitness levels, right up to running a marathon or other major sporting event. You don’t have to set your sights on something so high, of course, but having a goal to work towards will help you take control of your fitness program. Most of the people who get started on a fitness regime do not plan to fail, but they do fail to plan. It does not take long to set a few fitness goals, and you can work in small steps.
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The key to successful goal setting can be described using the SMART method. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. A few benefits of setting SMART goals are as follows:
Make things easy:
A specific goal will let you know what you are working towards; aiming to ‘be a better runner’ is not as easy to work towards as ‘run three miles’. In the same way, ‘lose weight’ is a common goal, whereas ‘lose ten pounds’ will be far more effective.
Make improvement visible:
If your fitness goal is not measurable, you won’t be able to see the improvements that you are making, and this may have the unintentional effect of demotivating you.
Give you reason to stay and stick to your fitness program:
If your goal is not achievable, you will struggle to see the point in continuing to stick to your program. Of course, you need to be realistic when setting and trying to attain these goals.
If you have been the classic couch potato, you won’t be running a continuous three miles in two weeks time. That doesn’t mean you can’t set a time schedule to work towards to keep you on the right track. Having a time period specified in which you hope to achieve your fitness goal will encourage you to not skip workouts. While it is not the end of the world if you don’t quite achieve your goal within the time limit, you will be close, which will encourage you to continue trying, or set yourself a new goal. Just remember, goals should be SMART.
A few other benefits:
When setting fitness goals for yourself, it is important to break each goal into mini challenges to keep you motivated along the way. You are far more likely to succeed with a series of lesser goals leading up to your main goal. These goals are to help you stay motivated as you will see each little success that will create the big picture. For example, if your goal is to lose ten pounds, set yourself a time goal of ten weeks, and focus just on one pound of extra weight lost each week.
Help you stay focused:
If you have set a fitness goal of improving your cardiovascular fitness, it is important not to rush yourself, however you may find that you are fighting a losing battle without setting interim goals. Pick a sporting event, for example an amateur triathlon, and set goals such as a 5k fun run, a swimathon, and so forth to monitor your progress.
Pre-designed programs and overall health improvement:
There are many pre-designed programs to help you achieve your fitness goals, such as the ‘Couch to 5k’ plan, that will have someone with no previous running experience completing 5k in nine weeks. In a program such as this, your goals can be as simple as completing the set workouts each week, with the main fitness goal being able to regularly run 5k. Setting targets in this way will help you to achieve your fitness goals and improve your overall health.