Exercise is an essential aspect of our lives, and it should be a top priority for everyone to stay healthy and fit. However, many people struggle to find the motivation to exercise regularly. Setting exercise goals is an effective way to increase motivation and improve overall fitness.
The summer before my freshman year I knew I wanted to set a large goal for myself in terms of exercise. We had just gone through an extended quarantine for covid and I wanted to give myself a challenge - something that would put me out of my comfort zone and at the same time keep me sharp going into my first year of college. So, I decided on a marathon. I had always considered myself fit and a decent runner, but I was nowhere close to marathon shape. In fact, the most I had run consecutively at that time was still in the single digits.
So, I found a plan. It took a quick google search and then I adjusted it based on my body and ability. Looking back on that summer, I still wonder how I was able to endure such rigorous training day in and day out. And reflecting on it, it was the setting of a goal that motivated me. I had something to work towards every day and each day I got slightly faster and slightly stronger, leading up to the big day.
Setting exercise goals can help you stay motivated. It is easy to lose interest in exercise when you don't have a clear goal in mind. When you set specific exercise goals, such as running a 5k or losing a certain amount of weight, you have something to work towards, which can keep you motivated and focused on achieving your goals.
A specific exercise goal can be also extremely helpful for tracking your progress. When you set exercise goals, you can measure your progress and see how far you have come. This is important because it can give you a sense of accomplishment and help you stay motivated. Each week, I saw bounds of progress from the last, something that kept me going in the training process. Tracking your progress can also help you identify areas where you need to improve and make necessary adjustments to your exercise routine.
The marathon goal for me held me accountable throughout the summer in a way that freelancing my exercise couldn’t have. When you set exercise goals, you are making a commitment to yourself. This commitment can help you stay accountable to yourself and your goals. Additionally, telling others about your exercise goals can also help you stay accountable. I told anyone I could find that I was training for a marathon and I realized it was more for myself than anything. The more people that knew, the more people I had to let down if I didn’t go through with it. When others know about your goals, they can encourage you and provide support when needed - something that many of friends and family did for me.
Your goal doesn’t have to be to run 26.2 miles. It can be run 10 miles a week. It can be to strength train at least 3 days a week. It could be to implement weekly yoga or stretching sessions. Anything that you can put in place to hold yourself accountable and strive towards a tangible goal is an amazing start.