Physical activity – setting yourself goals (2023)

Keeping active

Summary

Read the full fact sheet
  • Break down your ultimate health and fitness goal into small, specific and achievable mini-goals.
  • Keep a training diary to monitor your progress.
  • Always see your doctor for a medical check-up before starting any new fitness program, particularly if you are over 40 years, overweight, haven’t exercised in a long time or suffer from a chronic medical condition.

On this page

  • Setting physical activity goals
  • Pinpoint your ultimate fitness goal
  • Find out how to achieve your ultimate fitness goal
  • Set small, specific fitness goals
  • Monitor your physical activity regularly
  • Adapt your physical activity to changing circumstances
  • Physical activity – don’t be too hard on yourself
  • Where to get help

Making any lifestyle change can be challenging. Many people find that having a goal in mind gives them something to work towards, motivates them to stay on track and provides a measure of how well they are doing.

If you’re trying to become more physically active, realistic, well-planned goals keep you focused and motivated.

Ensure you read through the pre-exercise self-screening tool before you embark on a physical activity or exercise program, particularly if you are over 40 years, overweight, haven’t exercised in a long time or suffer from a chronic medical condition.

Setting physical activity goals

Several key principles can be applied to help you set your physical activity goals. These include:

  • Pinpoint your ultimate goal.
  • Find out how to achieve your ultimate goal.
  • Set small, specific mini-goals.
  • Monitor your progress regularly.
  • Adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself

Pinpoint your ultimate fitness goal

Suggestions include:

  • Be realistic – Your ultimate fitness goal could be to be fit enough to participate in a competition on a set date or to do 10 laps of the pool. Whatever the case, make this goal realistic. Remember that most of us will never be world-famous athletes or supermodels. Think about what is achievable for you. Write down your goals.
  • Be specific – Don’t make your ultimate goal a general statement like: ‘I want to lose weight’. Make it measurable. Exactly how many kilograms do you want to lose?
  • Choose a goal that is meaningful and important to you, not to anybody else. For example, if your partner wants you to lose weight, but you’re happy as you are, you may find it difficult to commit to your exercise routine in the long term.

Find out how to achieve your ultimate fitness goal

Once you have decided on your health and fitness goal, you need to consider how you will reach that goal. Different fitness goals require different approaches. For example, weight loss requires you to regularly burn more kilojoules than you consume. An effective strategy may include:

  • Choose aerobic activities such as walking.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes on all or most days of the week.
  • Cut back on junk food.
  • Eat smaller food portions.
  • Increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and wholegrain foods in your daily diet.

Set small, specific fitness goals

You are more likely to reach your ultimate goal if you break it down into small, short-term mini-goals. Short-term goals are specific, daily actions or behaviours that lead you to your ultimate goal. Suggestions include:

  • Know your starting point, so you can pick activities that are comfortable and realistic for you, and build slowly at a pace that feels right for you.
  • Set a reasonable timeframe. For example, if you want to lose 20 kg, then a realistic weight loss of 1 kg of body fat every one to two weeks means that you need to allow yourself around 20 to 40 weeks.
  • Consider your exercise routines as mini-goals. For example, one mini goal might be to exercise on all or most days of the week. The more mini goals you achieve, the more motivated you will become.

If you are unsure how to best achieve your particular fitness goals, ask an expert. For example, see your doctor, browse through the Better Health Channel fact sheets or consult an exercise physiologist, physiotherapist or appropriately qualified and certified personal trainer.

Monitor your physical activity regularly

Make your mini-goals measurable. Decide how you are going to monitor your progress and record every detail in a training diary. Suggestions include:

  • Measure your progress in concrete ways. For example, if you are weight training, write down the weight and repetitions for each exercise. If you are exercising to lose weight, keep track of your weight loss.
  • Choose appropriate ways to measure your progress. For example, bathroom scales don’t distinguish between muscle and fat. It may be better to take your measurements with a tape measure, or just notice how your clothes fit.
  • Find as many different ways to monitor your progress as you can and write down your progress regularly, such as once a week. For example, if you are exercising to lose weight, you might like to record your exercise sessions, daily diet and weekly measurements. Include incidental achievements like feeling more energetic or fitting into a smaller pair of jeans. Give yourself plenty of ways that you can succeed.
  • Celebrate your progress.

Adapt your physical activity to changing circumstances

Life can interrupt your training schedule. Suggestions for adapting to such changes include:

  • Think about ways to cope with interruptions. For example, you may not be able to exercise in your usual way when on holidays, but you can always walk or use the hotel fitness facilities.
  • If you get injured or become ill, don’t abandon your fitness goals. Instead, adjust your ultimate goal’s time frame. Come up with micro-goals to keep you on track while you recover. For example, you may be too ill to exercise, but you can improve your diet. Write down these micro-goals in your training diary to keep up your motivation.
  • If your fitness goal seems beyond you, readjust your mini-goals and stay motivated.

Physical activity – don’t be too hard on yourself

Sometimes, you may find that your fitness goal is too ambitious. For example, maybe you are losing 0.5 kg a week instead of 1 kg, and sometimes you may not lose any weight (remember muscle weighs more than fat), so make sure you focus on how you feel. You know yourself much better than a set of scales does.

  • The first few months of a new exercise program are always the most challenging. Adjust your short-term goals, persist and have faith that things will get easier with time.
  • Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Making a commitment to a healthier lifestyle is a tremendous achievement, even if your fitness goal is a little harder to reach than you first thought. Flip back to the start of your training diary and appreciate how far you’ve come.
  • Have a secondary fitness goal in mind. For example, if your ultimate goal is to lose 20kg, an ability to jog for 20 minutes may be your secondary goal. Achieving this secondary goal is still a great success.
  • Don’t give up. You’re worth the effort.

Where to get help

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:

Physical activity – setting yourself goals (2)

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:

Physical activity – setting yourself goals (4)

View all keeping active

More information

Related information

  • Aerobics - preventing injury Aerobics injuries are usually caused by trauma and overuse, but can be prevented by using the right techniques and equipment.
  • Arthritis and exercise Exercise can reduce some of the symptoms of arthritis, and improve joint mobility and strength.
  • Asthma and exercise Asthma triggered by exercise can be prevented with medication and by preparing for exercise and physical activity.
  • Australian rules football - preventing injury Australian rules football is a physical contact sport that often results in injuries from tackling, kicking, running and constant competition for the ball.
  • Balancing energy in and energy out A kilojoule is a unit of measure of energy, in the same way that kilometres measure distance.

From other websites

Content disclaimer

Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Healthshall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.

Reviewed on: 30-06-2015

FAQs

What is your fitness goals answer? ›

What is a fitness goal? A fitness goal is a specific training objective or physical challenge you set for yourself. Your goal should be realistic and achievable within a particular time frame, and specific to your exercise routine or training habits.

What should I set my activity goal to on Apple Watch? ›

Of course this is highly personal, since larger (either taller or heavier) individuals will burn more calories doing even basic movements. Still, it seems that many estimate put a “good” Move goal at between 500-1000 calories per day depending on your body type, age, and ability.

How do I set my fitness goals for myself? ›

Use the guidance below to craft and accomplish achievable fitness goals that suit you and your lifestyle.
  1. Use Visualization to Find Your 'Why' ...
  2. Break Big Goals Down Into Smaller Parts. ...
  3. Create Daily Goal-Supporting Habits. ...
  4. Create Challenging But Achievable Goals. ...
  5. Enjoy the Process. ...
  6. Stay Positive.
Jun 5, 2023

What is an example of a smart goal for physical activity? ›

Consider these example SMART fitness goal examples to get you started on setting your own goals. Short-term: By fall, I'll run a 5K. Long-term: This time next year, I'll run a 10K. If you're a more advanced runner, perhaps start with a goal to set a personal record for time in your next race, or to run a longer race.

What are examples of physical goals? ›

An effective strategy may include:
  • Choose aerobic activities such as walking.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes on all or most days of the week.
  • Cut back on junk food.
  • Eat smaller food portions.
  • Increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and wholegrain foods in your daily diet.

What are some examples of fitness goals? ›

If not, here are 10 fitness goals devised by personal trainers you may want to tackle.
  • Work Out 12 Days in a Month. ...
  • Run Continuously for 1 Mile in 6 Weeks. ...
  • Try a New Workout a Week Until You Find One You Like. ...
  • Average 10,000 Steps a Day for a Month. ...
  • Do a Set Number of Push-Ups in 4-6 Weeks. ...
  • Rest for 8 Full Days Monthly.
Jul 29, 2023

What should I set my Apple fitness goals at? ›

If you exercise several times a week, don't hesitate: 600 calories is what you should aim for. Working out at the gym, you'll burn around 300. Or if you prefer to run 5 km, you will burn about 200 calories; if you reach 10 km, you will burn more than 300 calories.

What is a realistic exercise goal on Apple Watch? ›

Most people we know, including ourselves, aim for something around 600-700 as a Move target. It's a number most find is achievable, but also requires you to be active at some point in the day.

What is my activity level? ›

Less Active:

You average less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Moderately active: You average 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Active: You average more than 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

How do I set my fitness goals on my watch? ›

Change your goals on your Apple Watch
  1. Open the Activity app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Swipe up, then tap Change Goals.
  3. Tap to increase or decrease the number of active calories for your daily Move goal, then tap Next.
  4. Tap to increase or decrease the number of minutes for your daily Exercise goal, then tap Next.
Nov 8, 2022

What is a smart goal for personal fitness? ›

Here are a few examples: I will walk 5 days every week for 30 minutes each. I will drink water instead of soda every day this week. I will bring my lunch to work instead of eating out 4 days this week.

How do you set smart goals for yourself? ›

We'll expand on his definitions to explore how to create, develop and achieve your goals:
  1. Specific. Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won't be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. ...
  2. Measurable. ...
  3. Achievable. ...
  4. Relevant. ...
  5. Time-bound.

What are goals of physical activity? ›

Let's see what those common fitness aims are:
  • Shedding fat – The single most common goal of the people who decide to start exercising is their desire to lose fat. ...
  • Building muscles – Some people don't have a weight problem. ...
  • Improving endurance – Other people get winded as they take a couple of flights of stairs.

What are the weekly physical goals? ›

Be physically active for 60 minutes 4 times this week (e.g. brisk walking, jogging, bike riding, dancing, swimming).

How would you describe your physical fitness 3 points? ›

Being physically fit has been defined as "the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and to meet unforeseen emergencies" The degree to which people have these attributes can be measured with specific tests.

What is your fitness smart goal? ›

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym to remind you how to set a goal that maps out exactly what you need to do. These goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Don't just stack up data you get from a fitness device.

What is the goal of physical fitness? ›

Improve your health

Regular exercise and physical activity promotes strong muscles and bones. It improves respiratory, cardiovascular health, and overall health. Staying active can also help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and reduce your risk for some cancers.

What is your fitness goal essay? ›

My fitness goal is to become healthier by eating foods that nourish the body and building a routine that will keep me active. My objective is to train my body where I can complete simple tasks such as walking up stairs without feeling winded.

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