Habits of Fit People: Set a Fun Fitness Goal

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.

Here's one that works for me: Shooting for a fun fitness goal. So why does something like this matter?

Sure, exercise itself can be fun, especially when you really enjoy doing something so much that it doesn't even seem like a workout (for me, that's tennis). But to keep at it day after day, week after week, year after year…you see where I'm going here. Over time, what was once fun can seem monotonous and your motivation to exercise can drop faster than a skydiving elephant!

All of this changes when you set a fun fitness goal. I'm not talking about "exercise 5 times a week" either. Set a goal that inspires you to train so that you can reach it. This way, your desire to reach your fun fitness goal will motivate you to keep exercising consistently. So what kind of fitness goal is fun and motivating enough to help you stick with a workout routine?

In the past year, I've been setting goals related to running: To run my first 5K, to run a 5K faster, and to run a 10K under 55 minutes. After setting these goals, I set a deadline (signing up for the race) and made my goal public by sharing it with others. Even on days when I didn't want to work out or my warm bed was calling my name on a dreary morning, I remembered my goal, my timeline, and all the people whom I told about it. Setting these goals even helped transform running—an activity I once considered boring and dreadful—into something that I really enjoyed doing. This is what helped me get out of bed and onto the road to reaching my goal. I just ran my first 10K on Thanksgiving Day, but now that I've accomplished my goal, I need something new to reach for or else before I fall back into a workout rut.

Are you looking for a fun fitness goal to pursue? Here are some ideas:

Running: Train to run a mile, a 5K, 10K or longer race. If you've done one or more of those, train to beat your previous time in one of those events. Sign up for a race that allows you ample time to train based on your fitness level, and commit to your training schedule so that you'll be ready by race day! With races all over the world throughout the year, you're sure to find one that suits your needs. Visit active.com to find races in your area.

Cycling: Many cycling events and races are also available in a variety of distances. Or you could set a goal like biking to work three days a week for three months, for example.

Flexibility: I can't tell you how many women have told me that they wish they could do the splits! Who knew! Why not set a goal and work toward it? Who says every goal has to be practical? What's wrong with aiming for a good party skill? Other flexibility goals could be to touch your toes or master a specific yoga pose that requires greater practice, strength and flexibility.

Strength: You could try the 100 Pushups Challenge, set a bench press goal, master the pull-up, or enter a power-lifting contest. All of these will help you work out consistently and develop more strength. These are great goals if you tend to slack on your strength training.

Start a Streak: One of the best kinds of fitness goals is a streak. Can you exercise every day for at least 10 minutes this month? How many weeks or months could you continue your streak? Once you get going, it's hard to stop—especially if you track your progress.

Skill Development: I've never learned how to properly swim and one of my goals is to take adult swimming lessons someday. Maybe you want to learn how to play tennis or golf. These fitness pursuits and fun and fulfilling, and when you take lessons, you'll be inspired to keep practicing (i.e. exercising) to improve your skills. You could even enter a tournament as motivation to stick with your new sport. I love playing tennis, and wanting to improve my game inspires me to run faster and further during the week to build my speed and endurance on the court.

Whatever goal you choose, set a deadline and share your goal with others. These two keys cannot be overlooked! A timeline creates a sense of urgency so that if you slack off you might not meet your deadline. Telling others keeps you accountable; you'll think twice about giving up so that you can save face!

There really is nothing like setting a goal, working toward it and then accomplishing it. It gives meaning to your workouts, which can keep you motivated. On Thanksgiving Day, not only did I run my first 10K, but I also beat my goal time. Had I been running without this goal in mind, my workouts would have been aimless. I would have found plenty of excuses to stop early or not run at all on some days. But all of my hard work came to fruition when I crossed that finish line. Every single step I took in the weeks prior got me there. I'd be lying said that I didn't feel a little emotional about the whole thing. Really, I felt proud of myself! And I felt proud of every person who entered that race, too, as if we were all in it together. We should all get to experience this sense of pride and accomplishment. I felt like I could do anything I set my mind to! And when it was over, I had to ask myself, "What's next?"

I am ready to tackle the next goal that will lead to an even fitter me! I'm thinking about new goals that will help me build strength now that I've been focusing so much on endurance this past year. One hundred pushups, real pull-ups, or as Coach Nancy keeps insisting, a half marathon? Time will tell!

What fitness goal will you reach next? Make it public and tell us below!

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I was in the varsity tennis team in high school - many, many years ago! But I remember the thrill of playing and returning hard hits. So I will aim for that - by enrolling in my community college CE tennis class which finishes with a competition. Report
My goal is to run a mile, once around McKinley Park. Report
I want to go rock climbing! I'd like to get strong and fit enough to learn how on an indoor rock wall at a gym I'd like to join when I save up enough money, then work my way up to an outdoor climb! Report
OK...I'm thinking. I have never had an athletic day in my many, many years. I'll get back to you...cause it makes sense. You've written a very encouraging, pragmatic way to begin this part of my life...but I need time to think. I will be buying a bike this spring...that's a possibility and apparently, secretly...I've thought about golf before!!!!!! Report
I'm glad I found this article...it's just what I needed!! I'm starting an exercise streak goal for now. I also want set a larger goal of getting back into mountain biking..maybe even enter a bike race!! Report
i have a hard time setting a goal i want to work towards. Report
i want to start a streak Report
I am ready to start streakin'! Report
I have already signed up for a 10k the end of March. My goal is to complete it in under 60 min. (my best 10k time is 62 min.) I am also intrigued by the 100 push-up challenge. Report
My goal for December is to average 14,000 activity steps daily. Report
What about a cycling goal like http://100milebike.com Here amateur cyclists are training towards goal of riding 100 miles in a day. Report
I liked the idea of a "fun goal" & liked the hundred pushups challenge idea at http://hundredpushups.com/index.htm

I just did the initial test & am barely at a Level 2. The website offers a 6-wk program, which I'm going to follow. I want to be at Level 7 (100 pushups) by the end of Jan 2010. Report
If you want to talk about "fun" and "inspiration", you gotta read about how some swimmers are thinking outside of the box. For a peek at a unique trend in the UK that has more people swimming outdoors, check out this cool feature called "Water's Transforming Power" on the Good4sports blog: http://good4sports.wordpress.com / Report
I would love to learn to swim as well....I am 55 and don't know how so it not to late to start! Report
Thanks for the link to stretches that help you work toward doing the splits. I'm a karate student endeavoring to learn to kick at or above waistlevel, and I've been very frustrated by my hip/hamstrip inflexibility. These stretches will help.

My fitness goal is getting my black belt. I've been sidelined by an injury to my knee for many months now, so I'm just getting back to it. Report
I enjoyed read habits of fit people, It making me think about running a 5k. I have to study up on what it takes to prepare for doing the run. Report
I love the deck of cards idea which is 3 comments below, by Mary janeoler, comment 122. Lol, but I'm that kind of person I use dice to get my through housework chores. My boyfriend, whose really fit, is away in the army. It is my goal to be able to run the 1/2 hour bush track in my back yard by the time he gets back. I've got just over a week left so I'ld better get get training. Report
As a runner in high school (30 years ago) I would like to once again be able to run one mile without stopping. I would like to accomplish this goal within 3 months. Report
I really would love to learn ballroom dancing esp. the flameco! Report
I have been reading Biggest Loser Simple Swaps and Jillian Michaels says to make workout fun like taking a deck of cards and doing the number of repetitions that corresponds to the number on the card. Face cards equal ten reps, an ace give you a 1 minute break. Diamonds equal pushups, hearts equal lunges, spades equal crunches, and clubs equal reverse crunches. Keep going until you finish the entire deck. Once you mastered this you can always change the cards meaning to what fits you. Report
Great idea! I want to become more flexible and will be adding two days of beginning yoga to my fitness routine. Report
I like the idea above of setting a Wii fit goal, especially now that it's coooold outside! Report
What an inspiring and creative way to up the "ante" in your exercise. Great ideas and I like the 100 push-ups and a half-marathan for next October. Thanks! Report
Great article!! My goal is to be able to run a mile without walking. Report
My goal is to walk a mile without having to stop to catch my breath!!
I'll work on the running later ! LoL!
Great article! Makes one think..... Report
this spark was just what i needed. As I am running out of goals. Report
My first goal is to run a mile on the treadmill without stopping. So far, I ran/walked a mile in less than 20 mins. I ran 6 mph for 1/10 mile. Report
My DH and I have said recently that we need a new fitness challenge. Last year, we bought bikes and started biking all of the local rail trails. This year, we bought kayaks and paddled around the little 1-mile pond that is in our back yard. The past two years, we've hiked 4-5 mountains. We're thinking now that walking isn't enough of a challenge, and we started to walk-run-walk. I bought a book on training to run a marathon. I think we're going to start out with a 5k, then a 10k, and so on until we get to half-marathon, marathon, and then triathalons! Meanwhile, we're planning to get back to Nordic skiing (first time in 7 years!), and perhaps try snowshoeing over the winter. We've both lost masses of weight (he: 195 lbs., me: 240 lbs.), and we're excited about using these "new" bodies that we have towards these new challenges! Report
This blog was just what I needed today! Thank you...there are so many different things I want to be able to do, and after reading all these comments, I've noticed that it is probably a good thing to have more than one goal so that when I accomplish one, I am already focusing on another one. So my short-term goal is to learn how to snow shoe. I also want to work on strength so that I can do 100 real push ups. I've always been very flexible and want to learn yoga. Report
Since I've injured my inner leg muscles, I can no longer sit cross-legged (indian-style). My goal is to be able to do that within six months.
Sounds silly to some people, but I've always wanted to be able to ride a unicycle.
Now that I've reached some goals in running, I want to switch gears for a bit and do something really fun. I'll keep running, but I'm getting myself a unicycle in the near future. Report
I'm working on doing a pull-up, slowly! Report
Saved this one Report
I am so glad that I read this article I will try and follow the lead I've been given. I'm just going to start slow but I'm going to do it. Report
Thanks SO MUCH for this blog! I'm one of the "splits" people and that link is just what I needed. Report
I did this, signing up for a half-marathon the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I signed up in July, when running 5 miles was a challenge for me. I found a training program and stuck through it. I ran the whole 13.1 miles with hardly any discomfort, and it was amazing. The only problem is after you reach the goal, you feel so disoriented. I haven't exercised properly since the race... Report
I totally agree that having goals gives me great motivation. I've had many goals including running a half-marathon, bicyling 100 miles, having TWO 100-mile bicycle events within a week of each other, etc. Another great inspiration is having a charity event. My husband and I always do the MS-150 here in Colorado. It's held at the end of June and since they have a 100-mile option, it means we have to step up our training in order to ride a full 175 miles in two days. That's my next goal, but I'll be setting up other goals. I loved the idea of doing 100 pushups, especially because it's not a cardio goal. As I've been writing this, I just added this as one of my new goals, two be completed by my 53rd Birthday which is at the end of January! Report
exercise can be a challenge for me so i aim to move my body, get my heartbeat up and break a sweat every day. never give up! Report
My goal is to be able to successfully hold a yoga arm balance (crow, forearm stand, or a pose I haven't discovered yet) or a headstand by December 2010. I am slowly developing the physical strength to do this, but I still need time to get the mental strength together! Report
I've got two big goals: I want to complete a Half Century Ride by the end of the riding season next fall, and I want to be able to run a 5k by next November. The Half Century ride is the harder goal for me at this point just because the riding season is so short here in VT -- it's July by the time I'm back where I left off the previous October!!

Hopefully, all the work I've been doing through SP, such as working my way up to running a mile and increasing my lower body strength, will help me meet these goals.

Thanks for reminding us that fitness is about achieving something fun and meaningful, not just calories! Report
When I was a kid, I was an athlete. I was a pretty natural athlete, loving to figure skate, ski and swim. But I didn't enjoy competing, and that was where athletes were qualified, so I wasn't aware that I was an athlete. I was just having fun. When I got to high school & then college and started along more academic paths, and joined theatre & other less physical activities, my athletic pursuits fell to the wayside and the pounds piled on.

Now that I'm exercising and working hard to live a healthy life again, I very quickly gravitated back to skating & swimming. They're fun! My goal now is to be that (non competitive) athlete again! My big goal, for the next year, is to get back to skiing. (That's a taller order living in TN as opposed to past homes in MI, UT & CA where skiing was easier to access.) But I will become a skier again, just as I'm becoming a swimmer again, and a figure skater too! Ah, what freedom! And how cool that they're good for me too! Report
The times I am the most vulnerable is right after I reach a goal. It is so important for me to have another goal ready to aim for! Report
I saved this one to my favorites. It has a little bit of everything, and I love the helpful links. Report
Great post! One of my long-term goals has been to learn how to swim. I took group lessons about 1 and 1/2 year ago, but I still need a lot of work so I'm going to take private lessons in Apr/May 2010 so that I can do other fun recreational things I enjoy like canoeing and I long to get on jet skis! In the short-term, I'm looking to join a recreational volleyball team. It's fun and will keep me active during the cold winter months. I don't always push myself to get to the gym as I should now that it gets dark earlier, but I love volleyball and will not miss a game if I can help it! Report
Great blog! I am going for the 100 push up challenge. Great website and I especially liked the fact that you can print a little book to track your progress. 100 push ups here I come . . . Report
WARNING ABOUT USING THE SPLITS AS A FUN PARTY GOAL! I learned to do the splits as a kid--still took me a year to get all the way to the floor--and my parents would have me show off my splits at parties. (I was at a normal weight, maybe even a little on the skinny side.) So... One party I dropped into the splits and my pants weren't stretchy at all, and--RIP!

After making that fun goal of being able to do the splits, be sure to wear stretchy pants when you show off at parties! Report
Okay, great blog! My first goal will be to get on the treadmill every day for 10 minutes. Not much, but better than the nothing I have been doing. Report
I am going to sign up for the heart 5k walk in March. Sign up by January, walk is in March Report
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