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Exercise Goals And Monitoring Progress

Developing a sustainable exercise plan requires that people :-
  • don't try to do too much - keep it simple
  • be specific enough about what they want to accomplish
  • are being realistic about accomplishments
  • have a way to monitor progress.

Don't just resolve to lose weight, for example. That's a good goal, but hard to measure because it is too general. Instead, resolve to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week, over the next three months.

Koenig, a professor of social psychology at Tulane University in New Orleans, has written extensively on keeping resolutions. He says people commonly make too many resolutions at one time and are often too hard on themselves.

"All too often we make resolutions that are totally a matter of sacrifice, effort, or pain," he says. "You need to sugarcoat that by including something fun. If you have a list of three resolutions and one of them is fun, then you are more likely to stick to all three."

Motivational speaker Dale Berry, CP, agrees it is important to have specific goals and specific plans for achieving them. Setting a realistic timetable is also important, he says, because without a deadline, a goal is just a dream. Most people fail because they aren't serious. They set resolutions at New Year's because they think they are supposed to, but little thought goes into how to accomplish them. There is nothing magical about midnight on Dec. 31.

But just because you didn't achieve your goal then, doesn't mean you can't do it now. A resolution should be a commitment you make to yourself, and you can make that commitment any day of the year.

Vague goals like "I want to lose weight" or "I want to get in shape" are destined to fail unless you have a detailed plan for success. It is not enough to just join a gym, for example. You have to schedule time to go every week and make going a top priority.


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