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How do I keep my exercise goals realistic?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
By increasing them very gradually. We have people start with a pedometer, and increase the number of steps they take by 250 per day. That means if you start at 4,000 steps per day, go up by 250 steps per day until you hit 10,000 and then add resistance exercise, and then add cardio. It is gradual increase until you ingrain exercise into your life.

The key is setting realistic goals from the start. Most want to jump in headfirst and lose interest because their program is not doable.

The Move It and Lose It Challenge is the ideal platform to get a better understanding of defining your starting point and progressing your exercise program in an efficient way. In Sharecare, you have the ideal tool to help guide you through your journey towards a healthier life. 

Keeping your exercise goals realistic is a combination of knowing what you are trying to accomplish and knowing yourself. You should arm yourself with education as it relates to the specific goal you are trying to accomplish because, without it, you will have great difficulty in gauging whether your goals are realistic or not. In the fitness world, most people want results 10 times faster than it takes to accomplish them.  If you know you want to lose 30 pounds and watched an infomercial one night where a lady lost eight pounds in the first week she tried, you may think you can get to your goal in less than one month.  This is an example of an unrealistic goal because safe and healthy weight loss approximates in at one to two pounds per week.

Knowing yourself is vital to keeping goals realistic as well.  If the holidays are coming up and you are a big social eater or drinker, you should know yourself well enough to determine that maintaining a 1200 calorie per day meal plan is a bit unreasonable. Be honest with yourself and what you are willing to do each day in order to accomplish your goals. Once you know what you need to do and if you are willing to do it, you are well on your way to setting goals that are grounded in reality.
If you've never worked out before, jumping into 4, 5 or 6 days of working out is probably not realistic. Being realistic means doing some exercise, but not too much exercise. To set realistic goals, look at what you've done in the past, think about how much time you can devote to exercise and what your goals are for exercising. Jumping in and doing too much leads to dropping out.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.