How to Set Healthy Exercise Goals
My exercise journey began when I was a sophomore in high school. Prior to my sophomore year, I participated in sports, but didn’t do any workouts outside of my sports. It started with HIIT and at-home Insanity workouts, then a lifting class at my high school. The running bug bit me as a senior in high school and led me to run many half marathons and 2 full marathons. Throughout college I’ve dabbled in running, lifting, yoga, and even couch potato-ing.
What I have learned is that what I do or don’t do does not define me.
Fitness and movement is meant to be enjoyed. Fitness is about loving yourself; moving in a way that challenges you, and is enjoyable. It’s about being active because you love yourself and want to care for your body, not because you dislike your body.
I believe that’s where a lot of people develop a poor relationship with exercise- when they see fitness as a way to “fix” themselves, not as a way to love themselves. Being active and moving shouldn’t be a punishment, but rather a way to care for and better ourselves.
So how do you take part in exercise and fitness in a healthy way that is beneficial to you both physically and psychologically? Ask yourself…
1. How does it feel?
Focusing on the positive feelings you get through exercise are an encouragement to participate again.
Have your stress levels decreased? Do you have more energy throughout the day? Are you more positive and motivated? Do you feel empowered? Do you feel physically stronger?
Finding a form of exercise that feels good, not only benefits you physically, but is more likely to keep you coming back because you’ll actually enjoy it.
2. What’s your motivation?
Do you exercise to burn X number of calories? Do you only exercise when you start a diet? Are you only exercising to lose weight?
Instead of focusing on those things, try focusing on the physical benefits of being active. Movement has many health benefits, not including weight loss, and is necessary for promoting health, increasing quality of life, and fighting off diseases.
When I exercise, I am less stressed and sleep better at night. I know my body is more relaxed, because my blood pressure is normal and my pulse hovers around 60. I also feel physically stronger and more energized, which helped me to be more focused in class and more present in life.
3. Is your plan flexible?
Less than 10% of adults in the United States engage in physical activity. Why? Because everyone is busy, and if you’re busy, why would you try to make time for something you don’t enjoy?
Being flexible with exercise is necessary, because life changes and interests change. Even though I have run marathons, I am not super into running right now. In fact, the thought of running more than 3 miles stresses me out. Because of that, I am not going to make myself run X amount of miles. Instead I will participate in a different form of exercise that I enjoy and look forward too.
Asking yourself these 3 questions allows you to recognize your why of exercising. It’s important that your why is positive and empowering. If your why is negative (“I’m going to workout to burn X amount of calories because I don’t like X part of my body”) it strips you of your confidence and motivation. But when it is positive, it encourages and empowers you to continue working toward your goals, even when you don’t feel extremely motivated.
My why and my goal is to prioritize being active and
moving daily to improve my health, reduce stress, and become stronger,
because I love my body and I want to care for it well.
Take a second to comment below
your why & fitness goals!