Everyone knows that exercise is important, but most of you just can’t seem to find the time. Before taking on a new fitness program or another diet think about why you are doing it. Is the torture going to be worthwhile this time? Take an honest look at yourself. Why are you doing this? What is your ultimate goal? What do you expect this program to do for you?
Goal setting establishes the “why.” Without a firm understanding of that “why” you will not succeed …again. Focusing on what that goal really is will keep you from giving up once the newness wears off. Lisa Bell (Evansville Courier & Press: Evansville, Ind. January 10, 2005) reminds us that changes occur at a cellular level first. What this little tidbit means it will take quite awhile before you actually see any results on the outside. In the long run the people who exercise regularly do it because it makes them feel better, rather than because of instant gratification.
What is physical fitness anyway? Physical fitness is having the energy to perform daily tasks, and enjoy having enough energy left over for leisure pursuits. Your commitment to exercise is what will make it possible for you to have fun and truly enjoy yourself, whether it be shopping or training for a marathon.
You should be able to walk a mile or climb stairs without feeling winded, and you should be able to carry on a conversation while doing light exercise. As you age, these capabilities decline. Muscles waste away, bones become thinner, balance fades and weight increases (unless you exercise enough to keep it from happening). The current recommendations are for 30 minutes of exercise every day plus two resistance training sessions a week. This should be your minimum goal.
Peter and Lora Francis (The Gazette: Montreal, Que. August 23, 1998) suggest that:
- Goals need to be specific rather than general in order to be achievable. Unless you know specifically what you want to gain from your goals you will have trouble coming up with a plan.
- Your goals should be measurable; otherwise you will not have a way to judge your progress.
- Your goal must be action orientated. You must have a plan to follow. Once you figure that out you can list possible ways to achieve. Write out a weekly plan of action.
- Be realistic: Your goals must be realistic if you expect to achieve them. Many people who quit their excise program do so because they become disillusion and aren’t getting the results that they expect.
- Keep to a time frame: review your action plan at the end of each week. If at the end of a couple of months you are discouraged, go back and review your plan. If things aren’t going well don’t assume that exercise doesn’t work for you. Your expectations may have been too lofty or totally unrealistic. Rework, make changes and try something else. Find what is right for you. Don’t train for a marathon if you are still having trouble running a mile. A good fitness program starts by taking baby steps.