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Setting goals, Staying motivated

Fitness challenges: What you need to know

Fitness challenges are a really good way to help you stay motivated with your exercise regime and ensure you’re moving forward. They are great for boosting your confidence and reinforcing the feel-good factor associated with getting active.

It’s important to go about setting yourself a challenge in the correct manner, however, otherwise you will not get all of the benefits you should.

Be realistic

The first thing to consider is whether a challenge is actually achievable, because there is no point if you will ultimately fail. That would only lead to negative feelings and a desire to give up on what could be a new hobby that is going you a lot of good.

Make it a challenge

While it’s important to know that with a bit of effort you will be able to achieve your goal, it’s also vital not to make it too easy. It’s called a challenge for a reason and you don’t want to accomplish it too quickly.

That would minimise your sense of achievement upon completion and ultimately only provide a limited amount of motivation. Pitch your challenge somewhere between the two ends of this spectrum.

Ensure it’s measurable

Being able to quantify your progress is a big part of working towards a challenge. It may be a distance that you want to complete or a target time and doesn’t have to combine both of these elements at once. Getting to the end of a marathon is a huge achievement no matter how long it takes.

Keep it personal

Everyone’s challenges in life are different and that translates to fitness too. Some people find running really easy, while others are better at swimming or team sports. Think about what you want to overcome on your fitness challenge and design a goal with that in mind.

Make it age-appropriate

Just as we are all different, our abilities change too as we get older, so do not expect to be able to do in your 40s what you did in your 20s. A good challenge for a 30-year-old is to be able to deadlift 50 per cent of their body weight. A 70-year-old should be aiming to walk a mile in 16 minutes or less.

Choose something you enjoy

While a challenge should be hard at times, it should also be enjoyable. Don’t punish yourself unnecessarily by choosing an activity you don’t like from the get go. Pick something you enjoy and see where you can take it, otherwise your motivation levels will be low from the start, making the challenge even harder.

Have a plan

It’s all well and good having a goal and knowing that with some hard work you can achieve it, but you need more specifics. Find out exactly what you need to do to get there and break it down into measurable steps. This is where a personal trainer or someone who has completed a similar challenge can be very helpful.

You don’t necessarily need to approach it in the same way, but it’s good to know how they did it and even ask questions on what worked well and what didn’t. Your goal without a plan will be just a dream.

Track your progress

Understanding how far you’ve come and how much you’ve got left to go is a great motivator. That’s why finding an effective way to track your progress is really important. Even if the end seems a long way off, it will help to see that you’ve already achieved a lot already.

Remember the associated benefits

It can get easy to become so focused on completing a fitness challenge that you forget all the benefits that come along with it. It’s not really about the finish line, but getting in better shape along the way, boosting confidence and getting that huge sense of achievement.

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