Face it, exercising just because you know you should is not all that exciting, motivating or interesting, and it can feel like a chore and a bore. That makes it all too easy to come up with excellent excuses why it may be okay to take today off — which turns into tomorrow and the next day too.

Setting a goal you care about can help you fight the excuses. If you are working toward accomplishing something that matters to you — like making the soccer, softball or football team or dusting friends or family at an upcoming road race — you'll do better at pushing yourself at times when you just don't feel like getting out there. It's easier to get yourself working hard because a) you're excited about your challenge, and b) it's no fun to let yourself down.

Goal-Setting Tips

Here are some tips on setting and achieving exercise goals:

  • Be realistic. Don't decide you're going to win the state gymnastics championship if you don't know how to do a cartwheel. Start with smaller goals that can help you to eventually achieve an end goal.
  • Be specific. "I'm going to be a great runner" isn't motivating because it's too vague and there's nothing to work toward. "I'm going to be able to run three miles by the end of the summer" is a much more specific and valuable goal to set.
  • Track your progress. Keep a log or use an app to monitor yourself on your way to achieving your goal.
  • Talk it up. Tell friends and family — they'll give support and praise, plus you'll hate the idea of having to admit you dropped the ball.
  • Picture yourself succeeding. This is the best reward of all! Just like picturing a made free throw shot prior to taking the shot, seeing yourself reach your goal is beneficial to the outcome of your efforts.