Get Fit and Have Fun
Adding a little friendly competition—with your friends, or with yourself—can be a great way to keep fitness fun and interesting. Just remember, the real reward is a healthier you.
Once you get caught up in the adrenaline and excitement, it can be easy to get carried away—so check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Choose goals that are doable and, every so often, throw in one that’s a bit of a stretch. If you don’t make it, no problem. The point is to keep things interesting.
To get the most out of your fitness goals, consider using the S.M.A.R.T. goal guidelines:
- Specific. Instead of saying “I want to get in shape,” set a more specific goal. Examples: “I want to run a 5K without stopping” or “I want to be able to do 20 pushups.”
- Measurable. Measure to know where you’re starting from, how you’re doing along the way, and when you reach your goal. If your goal is to do a 5K in 30 minutes, how long does it take you now?
- Accountable. If you are the only person who knows what your plan is, you’re making it that much easier to quit. Tell at least a few trusted, positive-minded friends or family members—anyone you know who will give you that nudge of encouragement you need on those days when you feel like giving up.
- Realistic. Both long-term and short-term goals should be realistic and reachable, while still somewhat challenging. It’s a bit of a balancing act, and you may need to adjust as you go. And remember, you may find that progress feels slower the closer you get to your goal. Be mindful that the pursuit of health is its own reward.
- Time-Based. If your goal is “to someday run a 5K,” it’s a bit too easy to keep pushing it down the road. Set a time limit to motivate yourself. Consider signing up for an organized event, like a fun-run or race.
There are lots of simple and creative ways to incorporate movement into your life.
- Parking away from your destination
- Bike or walk
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walk the dog
- Take up bird watching
- Offer to babysit a young child for a day (if you don’t already)
You can always use an old-fashioned stopwatch, and simple step counters (or pedometers) are now extremely low in price. But if you carry a smartphone most of the time, or are interested in one of the new wearable devices (like FitBit or Apple Watch or Garmin), there’s a whole host of options for keeping track of a whole lot more than time and steps taken. Here are a few we find useful:
- MapMyRun. MapMyRun can track your run (or your walk or bike) through your smartphone’s GPS technology. It can also recommend runs that others have saved in your area. You can see how you stack up against other users—or your friends—for best time on a given route, or compete against your own personal best.
- ACTIVEx. Personalized or group Tabata-based workouts (high-intensity interval training) with in-app coaching. Find “packs” to play with, or create your own, download training plans, and share your successes on social media.
- Charity Miles. If the thought of doing good gets you going, try Charity Miles, which not only tracks your activity by distance, but donates money—10 cents per mile for cyclists, 25 cents per mile for runners and walkers—to charities that you choose.
- Couch to 5K. The Couch to 5K program has helped thousands of runners cross the finish line of their first 5K race. The app makes it even easier, with a motivating onboard coach, supportive Couch to 5K community, and the ability to share your victories with family and friends online.