You might exercise to improve function, gain strength or slim down. Whatever your reason, “setting a goal can give you focus, confidence and motivation,” says Hannah J. Bennett, a physical therapist with Baylor Scott & White Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in Round Rock, Texas.
But how can you tell if your workouts are working? The key is making realistic and specific milestones. “Check your progress regularly,” says Bennett. Seeing results can provide motivation – or signal that it’s time to switch things up. Here are four common fitness goals and how to track them.
GOAL: Increase Strength
HOW TO MEASURE IT: Count how many repetitions you’re able to complete. You should feel as though you’re working hard after eight, says Michele Olson, PhD, a professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. If you can easily do 10 to 12 reps, you’ve gotten stronger, so
it’s time to increase resistance, whether that’s with weight, an elastic band or a more challenging bodyweight exercise.
GOAL: Increase Range of Motion
HOW TO MEASURE IT: Do the following moves: First, sit in a chair and see how close you can come to touching your toes. Next, raise both arms above your head with your palms facing each other. “See how far you can reach while keeping your arms straight,” says Olson. Finally, determine how well you bend your knees to sit down and stand up from a chair. (You may need to start with a pillow in the chair.) Repeat the moves each month, and take notes to track your progress.
GOAL: Lose Weight
HOW TO MEASURE IT: Step on the scale once a week at around the same time, says Bennett. According to a study in the journal Obesity, people who weighed themselves regularly were more likely to shed pounds – and keep them off – than those who didn’t.
GOAL: Increase Endurance
HOW TO MEASURE IT: Wear a watch and clock how long you exercise. “Time is easier to measure than distance,” says Bennett. Each week, add up to five minutes to your workout.
GO for the GOAL
Looking for a goal? Join the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk to Cure Arthritis 5K. Sign up for a walk near you at arthritis.org/ATWTCA and start getting in shape now.
Author: Sharon Liao
- Four Two-Minute Moves for Pain Relief
- Three Simple Weight Lifting Moves
- Biking is Great for Your Joints