It’s a new year, which means creating resolutions to get fitter, healthier, and become our best selves. However, so many of us tend to fall off the wagon when it comes to our fitness resolutions. Quitting the gym a few weeks into the new year can cause us to feel like a failure – and that’s no way to start the new year.
Setting Realistic Fitness Goals
Setting realistic fitness goals will work to plan out your fitness journey, prevent injury, and serve to help you build self-esteem as achieving your goals is a great confidence boost.
In setting your fitness goals for the new year, you should adopt the SMART goal-setting strategy, which means making your fitness goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
So now that we have the basics of fitness goal setting down, let’s get into which smart fitness resolution you should adopt in 2024.
Realistic 2024 Fitness Resolutions
1. Be honest and realistic
It’s easy to set goals for your fitness journey, but these goals need to be both appropriate and attainable. It’s best to introspect and admit if you’re someone who routinely exercises, and sticks to it, or acknowledge if you’re completely new to fitness, and tend to quit a few weeks into their journey.
Depending on whether you’re the former or the latter, you can then either adopt more complex goals, like training for a marathon, or something more simple like exercising a certain number of days a week.
2. Break your fitness dream into smaller goals
The best way to achieve a goal is to schedule smaller, more achievable goals.
For instance, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds (4.54 kg), then it’s best to break it down into smaller goals like eating more fruits and vegetables a week or making sure to exercise at least twice a week.
In doing so, you’ll achieve more sustainable weight loss, granted at a slower pace, but it will be a confidence boost. After all, it’s the little victories that keep us going.
3. Get a professional’s input
Before you embark on your fitness journey, it’s important to properly evaluate your current fitness level and better determine more fitness realistic goals. If you feel that you can’t do this accurately, then consult an expert, like a certified personal trainer, so that they can offer guidance and help you better track your progress.
4. Try to work out 12 days out of the month
According to the Cleveland Clinic, it is advisable to exercise for at least 150 minutes a day, which translates to 30 minutes across five days. However, if you’re starting your fitness journey, exercising for five days, or 20 times a week can sound taxing.
As such, it would be advisable to at least exercise for 12 days within a month, which translates to twice a week. Once the first month is complete, you can reevaluate and increase the total workouts to 16 per month.
5. Try a new workout until you find one you like
The best form of exercise is one that you can stick to, and it should preferably be one that you enjoy. So, if you’re new to fitness, it would be a good idea to try different workouts every session until you find what you enjoy.
To achieve this, visit your local gym and find out which classes they have on offer: kickboxing, trampolining, Tae Bo, CrossFit, or Pilates, and schedule yourself in. If you’re not keen on joining a gym, there are plenty of YouTube videos that offer beginner-level classes.
6. Walk more
If you’re looking to up your fitness game, then you may be thinking of reaching 10,000 steps a day. Now, while this may sound hard, walking is a great way to stay active, and it can also improve your heart health and even alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
What’s more, research has found that you don’t even need to reach 10,000 steps to enjoy these benefits, but that 4,000 steps are more than enough to boost your longevity.
To improve your step count, Mayo Clinic recommends the following:
- Walk your dog
- Take a walk whilst waiting for an appointment
- Park farther away from your desired location and then walk to it
- If you can, try walking during phone meetings
- Schedule walks
7. Strengthen your core
If there’s one area of your fitness journey that you need to prioritize, it’s your core strength. A strong core prevents back pain and injuries, and it also improves posture, balance, stability, and athletic performance.
Exercises that can help you strengthen your core include planks, so why not set a goal for yourself to hold a 1-minute plank within six months? Hold a plank two to three times a week for 20 to 30 seconds, and then work your way up to your one-minute goal by adding 5-second increments.
8. Stretch more
While stretching may not be top of the list when it comes to your 2024 goals, it’s an integral part of your fitness journey. This is especially true if you want to prevent injury and increase flexibility, as well as your range of motion. Stretched muscles are happy muscles; the happier the muscles, the more enjoyable your fitness journey.
It’s important to never start a workout without stretching first, and to end every workout with a stretch as well, making sure to hold a stretch for 20–30 seconds and targeting the muscle groups that you used during your workout.
Additionally, you can also include stretching in your daily routine, doing so in the mornings when you wake up, throughout the day, especially if you have a desk job, and a few minutes before bed to wind down.
9. Prioritize rest days
Recovery days are just as critical as the days you spend in the gym. It’s best to take rest days as it allows your body time to repair, recuperate, and recover, preferably for at least two days out of the week.
10. Drink at least 4 glasses of water a day
Staying hydrated, especially when on a fitness journey, can help prevent heat stress, low stamina, injuries, and muscle cramps.
It’s recommended that you consume 8 glasses of water a day, but if you don’t typically stay hydrated, this can be hard to achieve. So, try to drink four glasses of water a day by purchasing a reusable and easily portable water bottle, adding lemons, mint, cucumbers, ginger, or fruit to your water for taste, and drinking a glass of water every single morning.
12. Get 8–9 hours of sleep
Sleep is crucial for your health and your fitness, as it gives your body time to properly recover and build muscles.
To improve your sleep and maintain a healthy fitness journey, Dr. Yashica Khalawan, a South African-based general practitioner, recommends the following:
- Eat dinner 3 hours before bedtime.
- 1 hour before bedtime, switch off all devices. Limit liquid intake to avoid bathroom trips.
- Listen to relaxing music and take a warm bath/shower. The cooling of body temperature helps signal sleep.
- Create an environment that supports sleep:
- Room temp 68 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 20 °C)
- Darken the room
- Sound machine to block out outside noise
- Invest in a quality mattress and pillow that supports the alignment of the spine
- During the night, avoid checking the time, as this increases sleep anxiety.
13. Stay positive and celebrate your progress
Good things take time, especially when it comes to fitness.
It’s easy to feel as if you’re not reaching your fitness goals, but no plan is perfect, and you should continue to be kind to yourself and celebrate your progress. Doing so can help keep you motivated and committed to your fitness journey.
It’s easy to list fitness resolutions, but if you want to achieve them, then you’ll need to make them realistic and attainable. In doing so, you’ll make the necessary progress and be one step closer to achieving your 2024 fitness goals.
Rodrigues, F., Teixeira, D. S., Neiva, H. P., Cid, L., & Monteiro, D. (2020). The bright and dark sides of motivation as predictors of enjoyment, intention, and exercise persistence. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 30(4), 787-800. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.13617