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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’ve been moving more, climbing stairs and taking walking breaks at work. But really getting started on a new exercise routine—especially if you’ve been a happy couch potato for years—can seem overwhelming.
You may be disheartened at your level of fitness, or think you haven’t got enough grit to stay on course. Take a deep breath, and 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 30 pounds 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 OT 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.
Example 3: “Lose two kg per month.”Losing two 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 sound 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
150 minutes of physical activity per week?
Example 4: “Exercise for 45 minutes each day, four days a week by end-December.”
Or perhaps, your weight loss goal is to lose 10 pounds. But are you planning to lose two pounds per week over five weeks, or five pounds 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. As your buddy might tell you, “don’t be too
You might also want to tweak your fitness goals to lower the intensity or impact. For example, instead of jogging, try 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 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 loss goals. Avoid foods that are high in calories and fat, and choose lean protein foods when you are hoping to gain muscle mass.
Do consult your doctor before starting any exercise regime, and practise caution when exercising. Remember, safety first!
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This article was last reviewed on
Monday, November 4, 2019
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