Fitness Goals



Whether you want to lose weight or not, fitness goals are important for everyone because:

  • It helps maintain a healthy heart and circulatory system.
  • It keeps your metabolism active and not sluggish – exercise actually gives you energy!
  • As well as giving you energy during the day, it makes you sleep better at night.
  • It tones your muscles, giving you a more healthy appearance.
  • Toned muscles help our balance, which inevitable deteriorates as we get older.
  • It helps maintain bone strength, which is particularly important for women.
  • It releases endorphins that make us feel good.

Now we all don’t have to be world-class athletes, but we should all have an exercise program and fitness goals to boost our overall general health.

Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program to check your general health, particularly if you have been inactive for a long time.

It is generally recommended that we all get 30 minutes of activity every day. If you have an active job such as a labourer or cleaner, you may not have to do any dedicated exercise at all! But if you sit on your butt all day – then you need to make the effort to get moving!

And there are some easy and fun ways of getting activity into your daily routine – walk or ride a bike to work, walk the dog, learn to dance, join a sport. Exercising with a purpose (such as energetic gardening or house cleaning) is a great way of exercising without really exercising, so make these your fitness goals where you can.

Or you can just implement your own individual program of exercise. There are two types of exercise – aerobic training and weights or strength training. Both are important to your fitness goals.

The hardest thing about setting fitness goals is getting started – so keep reading if you’re a beginner at exercise for some helpful advice on how to get started.

And of course, make sure you are eating enough to sustain your fitness goals.

Determine your Starting Level

Before you start setting exercise and fitness goals, you need to know your starting level – there’s no point setting a goal based on running 10 km a day if you can barely walk 1km!

So you need to get your starting point and aim to work up from there.

For your aerobic training starting level, walk or run 1.5 km (1 mile) as quickly as you can – but not so quickly that you can’t talk or you make yourself nauseous. If this activity takes you more than 15 minutes, you need to pace your exercise carefully as you are starting from a low level of fitness. And I strongly recommend that you see your Doctor before developing any fitness goals so you don’t cause yourself any harm.

If it takes you 12-15 minutes, again start slowly and work your way up – don’t worry if you start your exercise program with brisk walking until you can handle this comfortably.

If it takes 10-12 minutes – you’re up for a slow jog. And less than 10 minutes, you’re starting off at a moderately good fitness level.

If you don’t want to go out for your test, then find a high step and do step-ups for your starting point test. Step up onto the step with one foot and then bring your other foot up onto the step. Step down one foot at a time. This cycle is 1 step. Now count how many steps you can do in 60 seconds. More than 100 means you are pretty fit to start with, around 60 is moderately fit, and less than 30 means BE CAUTIOUS.

For weights training, it’s just a matter of recording:

  • How many sit-ups you can do in 60 seconds.
  • How many push-ups you can do without needing a break, or in 60 seconds – whichever comes first. And also note whether these are full push-ups or push-ups from your knees.
  • How many pull-ups and squats you can do without needing a break, or in 60 seconds – whichever comes first.
  • How much weight you can bicep curl, achieving about 10-15 repetitions.

Remember that you’re establishing your baseline against which you can compare future test results to track your improvements and progress against your fitness goals.

But it’s also an indicator of your overall health – if you are struggling to do these activities within the above ranges, then see your Doctor or advice before setting any fitness goals.

Aerobic training for beginners

If you’re not a seasoned exerciser, understandably the thought of getting up and going for a 30 minute jog for your fitness goals is quite off-putting.

But you don’t have to do this - in fact it’s not recommended to launch straight into 30 minutes of high intensity exercise if your body isn’t used to it.

Instead, try the following program:

Week 1: Just get moving! Go for a 10 minute walk every morning – even if it’s just around the yard. In fact, a lady in Australia lost a staggering amount of weight by walking around her clothes-line, as initially she was too embarrassed to exercise in public. Don’t worry about reaching optimal heart rates or covering a particular distance, the purpose of this week is just to get you used to the concept of doing something.

Week 2: Up the intensity. Now that you’re over the first hurdle of getting moving, try to increase the intensity of your exercise. Try a routine of 60 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 60 seconds of low to moderate intensity exercise – remembering to warm up first.

High intensity is when your heart rate increases to 60 – 80% of your maximum heart rate – you should still be able to talk during this level of exercise, however your speech pattern will be interrupted by your breathing.

The Health Checklist in the ToolBOX will show you how to calculate your maximum and target heart rates.

Depending on your starting fitness level, this could be achieved by:

  • Alternating brisk walking with slow walking.
  • Alternating jogging with walking.
  • Alternating sprinting with jogging.

The purpose of this week is to start getting your body used to more intense exercise. And while this sounds exhausting, it’s actually quick energising!

Week 3: Up the duration of the high intensity By now, your body will be getting used to doing some exercise and you should be starting to feel some benefits – increased energy during the day and maybe better sleep at night.

For this week, do 10 minutes of high intensity exercise every morning – remembering to warm up first.

High intensity is when your heart rate increases to 60 – 80% of your maximum heart rate – you should still be able to talk during this level of exercise, however your speech pattern will be interrupted by your breathing.

Week 4 to 7: Increase the length of your workout For the next 4 weeks, increase the length of your exercise session by 5 minutes per week. So in week 4, you’ll be exercising 15 minutes per day, 20 minutes a day in week 5 and so on.

Aim for high intensity exercise as described above, remembering to warm up and warm down before and after exercise.

As the length of your high intensity workout increases, you may not be able to exercise every day. That’s OK, in fact at this intensity level a day off between training is good for recovery. Still exercise every day, but alternate a day of high intensity exercise with a day of moderate intensity.


Once you are exercising 30 minutes per session at high intensity, it’s just a matter of using improved performance as a measure of your fitness. Every week, aim to walk or run a little further than the last, or if you have a fixed circuit, try to cover it a little quicker.

You’ll be fit and healthy in no time!

Weights training for beginners

Starting a weights program can be daunting as there are so many different exercises you can do and weights machines available. And it depends on what your goal is for your weight training.

If your goal is to become a muscle clad body builder, then your best bet is to join a professional gym where you can optimise your weights training.

But if you’re like most of us who just want a bit of weights training to tone those muscles (but without the bulk) and to achieve the health benefits of a little extra strength, then you can prepare a suitable weights program you can do at home and with minimal equipment. A pair of hand weights and maybe some leg weights is all you need to get started.

If you can’t afford to buy a set of weights, you can use commonly found items around the home – a 1 L bottle of water (full of water) weighs 1 kg. Bags of flour, cans of fruit or a shopping bag filled with a range of groceries can all be used (and they have their weights marked on them – remember to allow a little extra for the weight of packaging).

You could also try sewing up some beanbag type weights in a range of sizes, filling them with clean gravel or sand.

Because your body needs a little time to repair muscles between weights training sessions, a good way to manage your weights training is focus on different parts of the body on alternating days. Try alternating upper body exercises with lower body exercises, aiming to do 3 sets of 20-25 repetitions each.

To find out some great upper and lower body exercises, try this site for your weights based fitness goals.