Choose Your Own Fitness Path

The best way to work toward healthy habits, such as regular exercise, is to set goals aligned with what you value.

How to Set Fitness Goals that Work

Science says it's important to set fitness goals that align with your values, not those that are based on short-term motivations (such as how you will look in a bathing suit). In fact, these kinds of goals can actually work against you. They tend to increase fear of rejection and judgment, which can lead to stress and self-consciousness. These feelings may actually cause you to avoid the gym rather than motivate you.

The best way to work toward healthy habits, such as regular exercise, is to set goals aligned with what you value. Change is more likely when you make choices based on who you are rather than how you might appear to others. For example, maybe you value an activity like hiking. Exercising regularly and eating well will build your endurance so that a 7-mile hike is less difficult. Rely on local resources to help you create a fitness plan that supports your own path, done your way. Here are some ideas:

  • Making a list of the things that are most important to you will bring focus. Follow up with a list of activities that relate, and visit your local fitness center to explore the options.
  • Working with a personal trainer can result in a custom workout that will best suit the goal of your choice. This is a great way to get experienced feedback on how to move forward and how to tackle obstacles that may have cropped up for you before.
  • Taking group fitness classes lets you decide what will best meet your goal. Whether you want to boost muscle strength in your arms for kayaking, or increase general flexibility for healthy aging, there is a fitness class to hone in on what you need.
  • Asking yourself one question every time you make a choice is a great start. That is, "Will choosing this bring me closer to what I value or further away?" The answer will take you in the most motivating direction - for you.

Check out the buddy system and train with a friend.

Explore the local outings with the Wildlands Conservancy's Get Out! for Wellness events.

Exercise Physiologist vs. Personal Trainer

Personal trainers typically work one-on-one with you to improve your physical fitness. They help you create realistic and meaningful goals and then develop individual training programs to meet them. The trainers will work closely with, and motivate you to implement the program ensuring exercises are done with proper form and equipment is used correctly. You will often find them leading group fitness classes. While there is no specific degree program for personal trainers, they will be certified by National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Council on Exercise (ACE), or National Academy of Sports Medicine (ACMS).

Exercise physiologists are degreed professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree, and have studied the entire gamut of human health, from the perspectives of science, biology, anatomy, kinesiology (the study of the mechanics of body movements), and nutrition.

Exercise physiologists use exercise to help patients recovering from chronic diseases improve cardiovascular function and become more flexible. Their specialty also covers the benefits of exercise in helping patients and other individuals get more fit for better all-around health. They can prescribe certain exercises for rehabilitation or for fitness purposes. They are able to advise and recommend behavior modification programs, and can treat many medical conditions, such as obesity, arthritis, depression, cardiovascular disease, and others.

Fitness Can Lead to a Longer Life

Researchers have found that better cardiorespiratory fitness leads to longer life, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic fitness. Read the full research study here: Cleveland Clinic Study and then go workout!