28 Smart Fitness Goals You Can Do to Feel Better Right Now

Man with many fitness goals

There’s a difference between fitness goals and specific tasks you do in order to achieve them.

The following is a list of both lofty goals (under long term fitness goals) and specific tasks you can take to achieve lofty goals (under short term fitness goals).

Mini Fitness Goals You Can Do Right Now

1.  Drink More Water

I drink a lot of fluids every day, but I know many people don’t.  Given the body is over 50% water [1], it’s not a surprise water is important for good health and increased energy.

The question is how much water should you drink?  The answer depends on many factors including your weight, how much you sweat (I use a sauna several times a week and consume a lot water during my 45 minute sauna routine), workout and how much fruits and vegetables you consume (fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water).

I don’t believe everyone must consume X number of ounces of water each day.  However, if you want a general rule of thumb, men should drink 13 cups a day and women 9 cups a day.[2]

Do all beverages count?  For example, does my 3 cups of coffee during a day count as 3 cups of water?  Yes it does because it contains water.  It’s not good to rely on sugary fluids (soda) as your primary source of water, but it does count toward your water intake.

I like water so I’m lucky.  I drink it regularly along with a little juice and coffee throughout the day.

2.  Do Mini Deep Breathing Sessions

Many people don’t breathe deeply enough.  In fact, we don’t really practice breathing at all and before we know it, we’re shallow breathers.

My yoga training has taught me that learning to breathe deeply can reduce stress, increase energy and contribute to feeling better.  Ideally, we should intentionally breathe deeply with every breath … but that’s not always going to happen.

A simple solution is to set aside a few minutes each day and do a few sets of 10 deep breaths.

If you workout regularly and/or do yoga, you’ll automatically incorporate deep breathing in your day which is sufficient.  This is one reason working out regularly makes us feel better (among many other reasons).

If you really want to take your breathing exercises to the next level, consider starting a pranayama routine.

3.  Breathe deeper generally

If you get into deep breathing, become more mindful with every breath you take.  With a little practice and intention, you can deepen your breathing which can reduce stress, increase energy, provide greater mental clarity and make you feel better.

4.  Move around every 60 to 90 minutes

If I need to take any of these smart fitness goals to heart, it’s this one.  My work is at a desk sitting in a chair.  I love what I do and I become so engrossed in what I’m doing I can end up sitting for 3, 4 or 5 hours straight.  Yes, I enjoy my work, but this amount of sitting without physical activity is not good.

Not only is incorporating exercise during the workday good for you, but it improves work performance and efficiency.  That may seem like a bold statement … but give it a try.  I do it on occasion … just not as often as I should.

In fact, some people really take this concept to heart by setting up treadmill workstations and working on exercise balls.

You don’t need to bust out a 300 pound squat in the office.  What’s needed is some simple physical movement.  For me, a mini-yoga session is ideal such as a few sun salutations.  However, walking, pushups, stretching, simple bodyweight exercises … anything that can be done with little space and little or no equipment will do the job.

Tim Ferriss, author of the 4 Hour Body has a great article on exercising throughout the workday here.

5.  Take Rest Days

This fitness tip is aimed toward people who are truly fitness fanatics or fitnessaholics who simply can’t take a day off from their fitness regimen.

I’ve been there.  I used to hate off days because in my mind an off day meant no progress.  However, I was wrong.  Just like we need to sleep, our bodies need rest from an intense fitness regimen.

If you find you’re working out 7 days a week, try taking one or two days off.  After all, our muscles grow during rest, not during working out.  If our bodies don’t get proper rest, our progress will slow and we can end up injured, hitting plateaus and/or burning out.

Rest days are important whether you’re a bodybuilder [3], runner [4], yogi or a general fitness enthusiast.[5]

6.  Sleep more and more deeply

Sleep problems afflict millions of people.  Whether it’s difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or entering a deep sleep, sleep difficulty not only hurts, but it has long term negative impact on health.

There are many things you can do before popping prescription pills to improve your sleep.

Consider the following tips for sleeping better and getting rid of insomnia:

  • Work out regularly and avoid doing so a few hours before bedtime.[6]
  • Don’t use a computer at night … the screen glow (blue light) can keep you up.  Yes I was surprised by this one, but it’s really true for me.  In fact, if I work on the computer late into the evening, I have more difficulty going to sleep plus I don’t sleep nearly as well. 
  • Eat better
  • Avoid caffeine (or restrict to the a.m.).
  • Avoid sugar in the evening … yes that means declining dessert offerings.
  • Avoid long naps.
  • Do a deep breathing session before bed and/or meditate.  Deep breathing and meditation is relaxing.  I do both deep breathing and mini-meditation sessions before going to sleep often and it helps a lot.
  • Cut back on the booze.  Alcohol, although it can make you drowsy, can interfere with a good night’s sleep.
  • Consume a small protein-only meal before going to bed.  
  • Establish a sleeping routine by going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time.  It doesn’t take long for the body to acclimatize to the routine.[7]
  • If after trying many sound sleep tips, visit your doctor.  It could be an underlying medical issue such as depression, anxiety or another matter.

7.  Eat one large salad a day

Eating one large salad a day was one of the actions I took to lose 34 pounds in 3 months.  it’s such an easy and inexpensive way to consume more vegetables.  Plus it helps you to eat less of other foods.

By large salad, I’m referring to loading it with all kinds of vegetables and fruit – cucumber, tomatoes, avacado, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, mixed greens, an egg, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.).  Make it a meal unto-itself.

TIP:  Avoid high-calorie dressings.  My favorite is an oldie but a goodie … olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

8.  Do 2 to 5 minute visualization sessions before workouts

Visualization or mental imagery is used by successful athletes and business people to achieve goals.  Visualization is a great technique for improving your workout performance, whether it’s cardio, weightlifting, yoga or a particular sport.

9.  Eliminate sugar for 1 month

Sugar consumption in our society is out-of-control.  Sugar can wreak havoc with health and it’s a major contributing cause to the increasing obesity in North America.

Sugar is not an easy thing to give up.  It has addictive qualities, which is further indicative of its negative effects on health.

Eliminating sugar for one month is a great fitness goal to try because it just may make you feel better, and do so quickly.

10.  Go vegetarian for 1 month

I became a vegetarian for 2 years.  It wasn’t for me, but it was an interesting experience.  It wasn’t for me because I didn’t have as much energy and I was hungry all the time.  No, I didn’t subsist on chips and fries.  I actually had a well-rounded vegetarian diet.

However, going vegetarian for 1 month will serve as a quasi-cleanse that may make you feel better.  Also, you may find out that vegetarianism is right for you.  My view is that vegetarianism is right for some people … but it’s not right for everybody.

11.  Do a cleanse

There are literally hundreds of cleanses you can do.  You can read them online or buy a cleanse kit.  There are juice cleanses, veggie-only cleanses, colon cleanses, the famous lemon-aid cleanse, natural-only food cleanses … you name it, there are all kinds of cleanses designed to lose weight, remove toxins, clean up your digestive tract, detox your liver, candida cleanses and more.

Be sure to consult a doctor before starting a cleanse.  Cleanses are fairly radical and restrictive.  They aren’t easy to complete, but many people swear by them.  I’ve done natural-food cleanses (I ate only limited fruit for 3 days).

It’s a good idea to spend time researching different cleanses before doing it.  If it sounds bizarre and too radical for you, don’t do it.

12.  Sweat every day

Sweating is great.  I feel good during and after a good sweat.  I like inducing a sweat from working out and sitting in a sauna.  On my off days, I often do a 3-round, 45 minute sauna session.  That may sound like a lot, but I’ve been using saunas for years.  It takes a few weeks to build up sauna stamina.  Just don’t go too nuts because people do themselves harm by sitting in a sauna too long at too high of a temperature.  Be sure to also drink plenty of water during a sauna session.

When I start working out, sometimes I’m a little slow going out of the gates.  I like 5 to 10 minutes of cardio to get my heart pumping and a slight sweat.  At that point I’m ready to really pound the weights and/or crank out a killer yoga routine.

Not only does sweating flush out toxins, but it’s also good for your brain.[8]

13.  Workout 3 times per week

I don’t have to tell you that working out is good for you.  In fact, I don’t like the term working out (despite the fact I use it a lot) because it has a negative sound (it includes the term “work” after all).

Working out can be going on a long walk, doing yoga, going for a kayak ride, a bike ride … there are so many fun physical activities you can do that comprises a workout.

However, if you’re like me and like the more traditional form of workout such as lifting weights and sweating like crazy on cardio machines, doing so 3 to 5 times a week is a great fitness goal.

The key is to get into a weekly rhythm and actually get in 3 workouts or physical activity sessions.

14.  Cut alcohol consumption in half for 1 month (or eliminate it)

You don’t have to be an alcoholic to benefit from stopping drinking.  Alcohol is not that healthy.  Yes, I know there are studies that purport the health benefits of moderate wine consumption, but cutting back if you’re a heavier-than-average drinker may be an easy and beneficial fitness goal to reach for.

15.  Go outside for 30 minutes every day

Fresh air and nature is good for body, mind and soul.  In our urban jungles, we tend to forget the positive feeling of getting outdoors.  Besides, when you’re outside, you’re likely engaged in a physical activity such as walking, running, cycling, skiing, etc.

Going outside exposes you to natural light and delivers vitamin D.  I’m not advocating sitting in the sun with baby oil and tinfoil for that deep brown tan; instead, exposing yourself to the sun and natural light while doing something active is simply good for your body and mind.

Other health benefits include stress relief and it’s good for your eyes.[9]

Setting aside 30 minutes a day to do this isn’t all that hard to do.  Even if you live in colder climates, simply dress for the occasion.

16.  Run or walk 300 steps 3 times a week

Do you have a large set of stairs near you?  I do.  Running and walking stairs is a super easy way to get in some high intensity workouts.  Stair climbing can be brutal, but it gets the blood pumping, builds leg muscle endurance, tones leg muscles (glutes, quads and calves) and because it’s intense, provides an excellent way for short, effective workouts.

If you have access to steps, mix up your routine by walking or running them 3 times a week.  If you have a stairclimber at your gym, use that (I do and it’s tougher than running on a treadmill and elliptical).

17.  Do a workout you’ve never done before for 1 month

If you’ve been grinding away at the same workout for months or years, try a totally different workout.  There are so many workouts you can do, whether you’re into weightlifting, cardio, yoga, bodyweight exercises, aerobics, martial arts … there’s thousands of variations you can introduce.

For example, one of my personal fitness goals for 2013 is to complete an intense at-home bodyweight workout such as P90X or INSANITY.  I’ve never done this, but figure a break from the weights will do me good and inject some spice into my regimen.  Besides, I’ll be very interested to see the results from a bodyweight only workout.

There’s no harm in taking a breather from your usual mode of working out.  For example, if you typically weight lift (as I do), why not try a bodyweight only workout or focus on yoga for one month.  You’ll learn something new and give yourself and body a break from the regimen you’ve been doing for years.

Alternatively, if you’ve been wanting to run a race, but haven’t really trained, start a serious running regimen for a race.

18.  Do abdominal exercises 3 times a week

Most of us don’t like doing ab exercises.  They hurt and are boring.  But they are necessary for a strong core.  A strong core is necessary for a healthy musculoskeletal system.

If you skip out on abs or only put a half-hearted effort into them, why not resolve to put a 100% effort into a 3 time a week abdominal routine for 1 to 2 months to see what happens?

19.  Use a sauna 2 times per week

If you’re member of a facility and you’ve been ignoring the sauna for years, why not give it a try?  I’m an avid sauna user and absolutely love the benefits of using a sauna regularly.

This is a super easy goal to pursue because it doesn’t get more relaxing than sitting in a sauna.  Keep in mind that at first it may feel uncomfortable, but like working out, you’ll quickly build up a tolerance.  Take it easy at first with short sessions and in no time you’ll love it.

20.  Take recommended Omega 3 supplements daily

The health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids are many and legendary.  They don’t cost an arm and a leg, are available everywhere and are simple to take as a supplement.  You can use supplements or consume more fish.

This one fitness tip can improve your health incredibly given the minimal cost and effort involved.  I take one fish oil pill daily and eat fish at least twice a week.  I’ve been an Omega 3 fatty acid consumer since my teenage years.

21.  Sign up for a fitness event – race, group, sport, schedule class, etc.

If you’ve never ran or cycled a race, joined a fitness group or sport or completed a multi-week fitness course such as a yoga course, give it a try.  You’ll get fit, meet people and achieve something.

Some people only pursue fitness via organized events; however, I don’t.  I’m a lone wolf so joining something to complete is a fitness tip that is good for me and other lone-wolf fitness fans.

22.  Read 1 health/fitness book each month

It’s better to do than read.  However, I’ve learned a ton about fitness, yoga, nutrition, etc. over the years from reading books and websites.  Endeavor to read one health/fitness book each month for the next 6 months.  You’ll learn a lot and you just might learn something that takes your fitness and/or health to the next level or introduce you to something new.

23.  Stretch for 15 minutes (at least) 3 times a week

I’m an avid yogi (and weightlifter … an uncommon combination that works for me).  I used to only lift weights, but after trying yoga in my early 20′s, realized it was the perfect complement to any fitness regimen.  Becoming more flexible makes me feel so much better.  Plus the deep breathing and stress relief yoga provides is wonderful.

You don’t have to do a 90 minute yoga session to enjoy benefits of becoming more flexible.  Start small with 15 minute stretching sessions before or after your usual workouts.  Another great time to stretch is first thing in the morning.  I don’t stretch every morning, but when I do it’s a great way to start the day.

24.  Walk for 60 minutes 5 times per week

If you’re new to fitness, walking is ideal.  It’s free and you can do it anywhere.  It’s also very relaxing and good for the mind.  Setting a goal of walking 5 times a week isn’t very onerous, but the benefits of walking regularly are many.

25.  Engage in fitness activities with your kids

I have a one-year old son and these days we go walking a lot.  He loves walking outside, so it’s a fun activity we share.  When he’s older we’ll no doubt go biking, play sports, swim, etc.

Doing physical activities with your kids is an amazing way to spend time with them and it’s healthy for you and your kids.  It doesn’t have to be fitness-oriented.  Make it fun … sports, walking, skiing, water sports, kayaking, hiking … there’s so much you can do with your kids outside and they just love it.

I’ll never forget playing tennis almost every weekend with my dad, starting at a very young age.  Although I don’t play a ton of racquet sports these days, I had a lot of fun and became decent at tennis … something I may pick up again.

26.  Join a gym (and go 4 times per week)

I love belonging to a gym.  I’ve been a member since I was 15 years old.  I gain access to the best equipment for $60 per month.  I also gain access to a sauna.  For me the money is very well spent.

Note, however, that just because you join doesn’t mean you’ll go.  Many gym members pay every month and never go.  Don’t fall into this trap.  If you join, resolve to go.  Check out the free fitness classes they offer if you like structured and organized fitness.

27.  Go on a technology diet – Restrict use to 2 times a day

How often do you pick up your cell phone and check email, text messages and use other apps?  If it’s more than once an hour, consider a tech diet and limit your use of mobile devices to twice a day.

If you have an alert set up, turn it off so you don’t know when you receive an email and/or text message.  Resist the urge to constantly be on the device.  Instead, when bored, practice deep breathing and relax.

Cell phone addiction is a real phenomenon that is adding stress to our lives and harming relationships.  Also, leave your cell phone in the locker or at home when working out.  The last thing you need is a distraction when working out.

28.  Create a home gym space

If joining a gym isn’t for you, consider creating a dedicated workout space in your home where you can follow along to fitness videos, do yoga, lift weights, and/or use cardio machines.  A dedicates space will be an incentive and a comfortable place to workout without distraction regularly.

When you have a dedicates space you won’t have to worry about moving furniture and items around to create sufficient space for a workout.  With a dedicated space it’s ready and waiting for you … a convenience factor that will result in working out more regularly.

29.  Save money and get fit – experiment with free fitness for 1 year

If you’re in financial dire straights, plan out ways you can workout for free.  Yes, I spend money on a gym membership, yoga classes and some home equipment … but you don’t have to spend a dime to get fit.

Consider the following free ways to get fit and exercise:

  • Walk/run outside
  • Search for free bodyweight exercise routines online (there are tons of them)
  • Get free yoga routines you can do at home
  • The internet is your friend for anything free … search for any type of free exercise/workout

30.  Meditate or site quietly for 10 minutes a day 5 times a week

Meditation is a terrific stress reliever.  When you have less stress, you can more easily lose weight, feel better, perform better and live better.  I realize the thought of sitting and doing nothing seems like it’s a waste of time, but it’s not.  Many scientific studies in recent years show without a doubt that meditation offers tremendous benefits to our health.

The longer I pursue fitness and health, the more I discover the body/mind connection.  A healthy mind contributes extensively to a healthy body and vice versa. Meditation is one of the best things you can do for a healthy mind, which can result in a healthier and better-performing body.

31.  Get medical physicals when recommended

Visit your doctor and schedule those physicals.  Prevention and early detection is important to longevity.  Many diseases discovered early are treatable.  If it’s been a few years since you’ve had a physical, resolve to schedule one within the next week.

32.  Cut out wheat for one month

Recently my wife and I have been reading about the health benefits of cutting out wheat.  I’m still learning about it by reading Wheat Belly.  There’s compelling arguments that eliminating wheat can improve one’s health dramatically.

Cutting out wheat is like cutting out sugar … it’s tough because so much of our food contains wheat.  However, if you’re interested in getting healthier, read Wheat Belly and consider cutting out wheat to see what happens.

Long Term Fitness Goals to Shoot For

1.  Run a marathon (or X mile race)

I’ve never run a race since junior high school.  It’s not an immediate goal for me, but it is nevertheless a great goal to shoot for because it forces you to train regularly and establish a fitness regimen.

2.  Reach ideal body fat % (or a specific body fat %)

If you’re overweight, your priority should be to determine your ideal body fat percentage and resolve to burn fat and reach that goal.

3.  Increase vertical jump by 10%

This goal isn’t for everyone, but I do see people at the gym performing jump training exercises.  If you’re looking for something to shoot for that incorporates different types of training, work on improving your jump vertical.

4.  Lower your resting heart rate by 5 beats per minute

If you have a high heart rate, endeavor to lowering your resting heart rate which is good for health.  You can do this via exercise and proper nutrition.

5.  Touch your toes in seated pose

This is a simple flexibility goal you can achieve fairly quickly and it may inspire you to become more flexible.

6.  Increase overall strength by 5% in 2 months (average strength for entire body)

This is a fun goal for weight lifters and bodybuilders.  Determine your 1 rep max for each body part.  Then calculate the amount of weight to lift that’s 5% above your 1 rep max.  Voila, you have an awesome goal to go for.  It’s focused and fun to pursue.

7.  Complete a rigorous bodyweight workout program

This is one of my goals for 2013.  I’ve never completed a rigorous at-home bodyweight program, but want to do so.  These programs are universal programs that set out different workouts, nutrition plans, supplement plans … the whole shebang.  I have no doubt that a quality program if followed properly will generate dramatic results.

8.  Drop X pounds

If you’re overweight, this is a common long term goal.  Determine your ideal weight, establish a healthy exercise program and eat for weight loss … and stick to it.  Make it happen this year.  More importantly, change your lifestyle so you don’t pack on those pounds again.

9.  Improve muscle tone within 3 months

This is a difficult goal to quantify, but it’s a great goal nevertheless.  Picture the body you want or get a picture of someone with your ideal physique and pursue it relentlessly.

10.  Add x inches to a particular muscle group

If you’re into weightlifting and bodybuilding, set a quantifiable goal of adding x inches to a particular muscle or muscles.  In order to do this, you’ll need a great muscle building workout and quality nutrition program.

There you have it … 28 short and long term fitness goals you can start today.  This list contains something for everyone.  Do not try to do all of them … there isn’t enough time in the day to do them all.

Related Articles

Read my Ultimate Guide to Achieving Fitness Goals with 10 Pitfalls to Avoid to discover the secrets of setting and achieving your fitness goals.

For a great list of yoga goals, read my 19 Yoga Goals that Will Deepen Your Yoga Practice article.

References

[1]  Wikipedia.  Body Water.

[2]  Mayo Clinic.  Water:  How Much Should You Drink Every Day?

[3]  Behar, J.  Rest and Overtraining:  What Does This Mean to the Dedicated Bodybuilder?  Bodybuilding.com.

[4]  Eyestone, E.  The Rest is Easy.  Runners World.

[5]  Quinn, E.  Rest and Recovery After Exercise – Improve Sports Performance.  About.com Sports Medicine.

[6]  WebMD.  The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep (Slide #10).

[7]  WebMD.  The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep (Slide #8).

[8]  Josefowicz, C.  Sweating Makes You Smart.  Psychology Today.

[9]  Physical Living.  Natural Deficit Disorder: Top 10 Reasons to Go Outside.

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