What’s Your Fitness Goal?
What, no goal? C'mon! This Health 101. Let me explain.
Now that I’m running again in what I euphemistically think of as midlife, I rack up a lot of steps on my Garmin watch most days. I brought it up because I realized this week that I’ve taken more than 1 million steps so far this calendar year.
That’s a lot of steps!
I don’t pay this measure much attention, because steps are not among my goals.
But if you don’t have a fitness goal—something to motivate you to move every day, and move a little more tomorrow than you did today—steps can be a great one. You don’t need to aim for 10,000 (the number is a myth, as I’ve written before). If you can do 2,000 daily, great; aim for 3,000. If you can do 4,000, fantastic; aim for 6,000. Set reasonable goals. Achieve them. Set new goals.
Don’t have a step counter? Use time as your measure. Walk 10 minutes a day this week, and aim to get to 20 minutes per day a month from now. Or use distance: Walk around the block once, then twice. You get the idea.
Don’t like walking? The same approach can be applied to, say, push-ups. If you can do two, aim for 10. If you can do 10, aim for 20. And so on.
Or yoga or weights. If it suits you, aim to do either one two days a week. Then three. Go for 10 minutes, then 20.
Or take up an entirely new sport or activity that’ll give you tons of room for improvement—lots of room for incremental goals. Martial arts, anyone?
I like to set short- and long-term goals, and keep them somewhat flexible. They’re always concrete and measurable—keys to making them reachable and motivational, science tells us.
My current fitness plan revolves around short-term goals of increasing my weekly run mileage from an average of 20 per week to 30, over the course of a couple months, and getting gradually and slightly faster at 400-meter and 1-mile distances. My long-term goal is to run longer races this coming year—half-marathon or perhaps marathon (yikes!) distances instead of the mostly 5k to 10k distances I ran this year—and run them at competitive paces. I will pin down those longer-term goals as the fall trail-running season approaches and I can evaluate my progress, with a priority on staying healthy and uninjured along the way.
I blather on just to get to this point: Whatever your level (or lack) of fitness is, you need goals if you hope to improve or even maintain it. And fitness, as you know, is linked directly to good physical and mental health:
So what’s your goal? Or goals, if you enjoy multiple activities?
If you don’t have anything in mind, I’ve got more suggestions and motivational chatter here:
Another of my recent articles
Sleep-Deprived Drivers Might as Well be Drunk
Just one lost hour of sleep is known to diminish reactions and other cognitive skills the next day. If you get less than four or five hours of sleep, and drive, your reactions approach that of a drunk driver, new research confirms. Older studies have reached similar conclusions. You could just not drive, of course. Better: Sleep well!
BIT OF WISDOM
"The rapidly increasing numbers of elderly in the population inevitably results in more age-related diseases… One of the greatest challenges of our time is therefore to promote both longevity and healthy aging."
—Olle Melander, professor of internal medicine at Lund University in Sweden and organizer of an upcoming May 12-13 symposium on aging
Until next week, wishing you health and happiness.
Thank you for your support. If you find this newsletter useful, go ahead and forward it to someone who might benefit. You can find more of my health and wellness writing on Medium. Also find me on YouTube, Instagram, Mastodon, Twitter, Linkedin. And if you want to live a long, healthy, happy life, check out my book, Make Sleep Your Superpower.