As a physical therapist, I have helped many people start healthy and productive exercise programs. When talking to patients, I frequently see the same mistakes being made which lead to people either quitting on their goals to start exercising or never even starting. The biggest mistake that I see/hear is starting to exercise without any real long-term plan or goal in place.
When we don’t set specific and attainable goals for ourselves, oftentimes “when the going gets tough”, we give up because we don’t know what it is we’re working towards. Having a very specific goal in mind can be extremely helpful during challenging times and may reduce the likelihood of giving up on your goals completely.
The best way to set your goal is to decide what would make you happy. Is it to lose 2 inches? Complete a 5K race? Get outside more? I suggest setting a long-term goal and then setting goals which you will complete on your way toward that goal! For example, if your goal is to run a 5K (3.1 miles), six weeks from now, your short-term goal might be to run 5 minutes straight by next week on this day. Then once that goal is met, set another goal which will help you work toward your ultimate goal.
Write your goals down so that when you’re tired from work or the kids and you don’t feel like being active, you can look at your goal and remember what you’re working towards. We are often easily distracted and lose sight of our goals or get too busy, so frequently reminding ourselves of our goals is very important when working toward reaching them!
If you need help with goal setting this spring and summer, it may be a good idea to reach out to a physical therapist or personal trainer for help. Others with more exercise experience will have a good idea of what goals are realistic and attainable for you and will help you design a program to set you on your way!
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Cameron Dennis, PT, DPT
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