Starting an exercise journey can be tough on both your mind and body. Learn to set realistic goals and reach them safely for better health and fitness.
You may be disheartened at your level of fitness, or think you haven’t got enough grit to stay on course. Let’s break down the ways you can set realistic goals and reach them safely.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a newbie is biting off more than you can chew. Let’s take a look at these two goals. “I want to place in the Sundown Marathon next month!” and “I want to lose 10kg in a month!” Do they sound realistic?
A person who has not been exercising or training regularly will not be able to place in a marathon easily, or even finish a marathon without risk of injury. Losing too much weight suddenly may also hurt our health and immune system.
Setting a goal that is too big and unrealistic—and often unsafe—will do more harm than good for us.
Your goals should be
What Is a Healthy Weight?
If you work overtime most nights, it may not be realistic to commit to a 45-minute gym session daily after work. Split your workouts: 10 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes during lunch, and 20 minutes after work. Doing some physical activity is better than doing none. Adults should start by doing small amounts of physical activity, and gradually increase the frequency, intensity, and duration over time.
Example 3: “Lose one kg per month.”Losing one kg per month is attainable; aiming to lose 10 kg per month is unsafe.
“I want to do 100 push-ups a day.” “I want to do 1000 push-ups a day.” Which of these sounds more attainable to you?
How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way
Work towards something you care about. If you’re happy with your weight, weight loss goals wouldn’t be relevant or motivational. An exercise goal might be more inspiring (e.g. run five km within three months).
Exercise vs Diet
Set a deadline or choose a time frame so you’re motivated to start. What’s your end-point, your grand prize? Do you want to achieve your goal in the short term or long term?
How would you set a SMART goal for yourself to get the recommended minimum 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week?
Example 4: “Exercise for 45 minutes each day, four days a week by end-December.”
Or perhaps, your weight management goal is to lose 5kg to achieve a healthier weight. But are you planning to lose 1kg per week over five weeks, or 2.5kg per week over two weeks? The former is far more realistic than the latter. With your end-goal in mind, start working towards reaching your goal.
Stop Wishing, Start Doing
Start with a small and easy first step, e.g. do one wall squat every morning. The idea is to get used to moving and gradually work your way up: from one wall squat, to five, to a full 15-minute routine.
Exercise—It's Easier Than You Think!
Soreness is normal, pain isn’t. Listen to your body, and stop if you feel pain—it could be a sign of injury or muscle exhaustion. Reaching your goals are supposed to improve your health, not be detrimental to your body!
Push yourself, but not to the point of hurting yourself in a bid to build muscle mass or lose weight quickly.
You might also want to tweak your fitness goals to lower the intensity or impact. For example, instead of jogging, try recreational badminton,
tai chi or cycling. And consult your doctor before starting a workout routine!
Move in Your Time
Warm up before your workout to prepare your muscles and avoid injuries, and cool down post-workout with stretches to minimise aches. Remember to drink water before, during, and after your workout to stay hydrated.
Check out this video for some warm up exercises you can include in your workout routine.
Water—The Best Refreshment
Put on suitable and comfortable clothes and shoes when exercising, use proper equipment, and wear protective gear (e.g. helmets and guards) if needed.
Try to avoid going outdoors between 10.30 am and 3.30 pm—that’s when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If you must head out, remember to put on sunblock, and grab a hat and a pair of shades.
Sensible diet plans are part and parcel of any weight management goals. Avoid foods that are high in calories and fat, and choose lean protein, wholegrains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Do consult your doctor before starting any exercise regime, and practise caution when exercising. Remember, safety first!
Download the HealthHub app on
Google Play or
Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.
Read these next:
This article was last reviewed on
Thursday, March 23, 2023
What is a Healthy Weight?
5 Exercises to Prevent Chronic Illnesses
Diet vs Exercise
7 Reasons to Stop Sitting for Long Periods
Step Right Up
Health Benefits of Walking
View More Programmes
Physical activity is important to health. Get started with HPB's physical activity programmes and get more from life today!
Subsidised health screening for Singapore Citizens.
Wouldn’t it be great if healthy living were as easy and enjoyable as shopping? Now, that’s possible at Health Promoting Malls. Have fun with mall workouts, enjoy healthier meals, and learn how to stay smoke-free – all at your convenience!
Browse Live Healthy
In partnership with