10 fitness goals that get results

Whatever you set out to do in life, having a clear set of guidelines will help you reach your goal more quickly. Fitness is no exception. There's no point going to the gym once or twice a week and doing the same routine month after month, you need to have focus and direction.

That's why we've drawn up this list of the top 10 fitness goals. Print it out and stick it on your fridge, keep it in your Filofax or file it on your computer – that way you'll be constantly reminded of what it is you wish to achieve, and how you are going to do it. By rereading this list every few weeks, you will have a better chance of achieving these important goals. They will help improve your energy, looks and quality of life.

Work out regularly. Aim to train two to five times a week. Each session should last between 20 minutes to an hour. Remember it is the quality (not the quantity) of the time you spend training that leads to progression. Push your self harder on days when you feel you have more strength, and go easier when you feel less energetic.

Do a mixture of exercises. Make sure that your training regime covers all the necessary elements. Your weekly exercise programme should include elements of cardiovascular (aerobics, running, brisk walking, stepping, skipping rope, rowing), resistance training (weights or own body exercises such as press ups) and, finally, flexibility (stretching). You should always warm up and cool down before each session.

Take up a new class. Commit to trying a new exercise discipline within the next month. I call this the 'Heineken principle', because different forms of training hit different places! For example a Pilates class will teach you how to build core training into your exercise principles, and show you how to hit your abdominals in ways that are not possible with conventional sit-ups. Why not try a kickboxing or Tae Bo class instead of the usual step or aerobics?

Become independent. It's really important to learn to exercise without equipment. How many times have you heard about people going off on a sun-soaked holiday, only to return feeling unfit and sluggish because there was no gym there? If you learn to use your own body by doing squats, lunges, press-ups, a variety of sit-ups and stretches, you can workout wherever you are in the world, and there is no excuse for not looking after yourself.

Eat a balanced diet. You'll never be properly fit if you don't put the right fuel into your body. If you simply exercise more, to make up for sloppy eating habits, you will actually push your ultimate goal further away and run the risk of over training. Food is not your enemy. Eating and appetite are basic instincts. You will become stronger and fitter more quickly, if you eat little amounts of nutritious foods at short intervals.

Get help. Working with a personal trainer, either at home or the gym, can make the difference between getting almost fit and achieving true fitness. By fine-tuning your form and technique, your exercises will take on a new meaning. A consultation with a professional nutritionist will also help you improve your eating habits and establish your individual food needs.

Create a healthy environment. Whether you spend most of your time at home or at work, don't let yourself be surrounded by temptations that could throw your healthy regime off course. Clean out your fridge and cupboards and get rid of easy-to-eat junk foods that are filled with empty calories. Instead make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks around you to keep you on the right track.

Surround yourself with like-minded people. The more you hang out with individuals who are on the same path as you, the less chance you have of straying. Friends and partners who follow healthy lifestyles are more likely to encourage and support each other to achieve their fitness goals.

Keep moving. Try to walk more, instead of using the car or bus, and take every opportunity to be involved in fun and games, be it with the dog, your children or your partner.

Wear the right shoes. It's important before starting any exercise regime to get fitted by a footwear specialist, such as The Athlete’s Foot. Having poorly fitted shoes can be the cause of foot, leg and back pain. Correctly fitted shoes can reduce the likelihood of injuries, reduce the pain of pre-existing conditions and ensure that you are comfortable from the time you put them on, until the time you take them off.

Remember, fitness is for life. Working out and eating correctly are not short-term projects. They are things that should be as natural to us as brushing our teeth. Make fitness a permanent part of your life by following these tips, and you'll lead a better and more fulfilling life.

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