10 Exercise Ideas to Start the New Year Strong

Posted on Posted in Health and Fitness

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Goal-setting is key in the process of improving your health and fitness. In this post, I will highlight a classic study on the importance of goal setting and give you 10 simple health and fitness goals to work toward.

Harvard MBA Study

All of us understand the importance of goal-setting, but most of us don’t understand how to set goals or maybe understand the importance of setting goals. If you have missed the value of setting goals, let this 1979 Harvard MBA program study show you how truly valuable goal setting can be. A group of Harvard MBA students participated in a 1979 study that highlights the importance of goal-setting, and how it impacted the student’s futures.

In 1979, Harvard graduate students were asked, “have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” You would think a group of graduate students at Harvard, with all of their skill, knowledge, and ambition would nail this right? Only 3% had written their goals out and had plans to follow for them. Thirteen percent of the graduate students had goals, but failed to put them into writing, or had a follow-through plan. Here is the shocking part for me, 84% had no goals at all. Let’s look at what happened ten years later when that same group was interviewed again, the results will shock you too.

“If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you.”

– unknown

Starting with the 13% of those who had goals, but did not write them down. These individuals earned twice as much as the 84% who had no goals. What about the 3%? They got it right, didn’t they? The 3% that wrote their goals down were earning an average of ten times as much as the other 97% combined! Amazing, truly amazing.

Are you convinced you to need to start setting some goals now? As the Harvard students show us, there is huge value in setting goals. I want to emphasize, the key piece in goal-setting for those 3% was in writing down their goals. Not just setting a goal, but writing it down. This creates accountability. For me, it creates a desire to check the goal off my list.

When we write our goals down and review them often, we are reminded of them and will work toward them. They not only serve as markers for our progress, but milestones and jumping off points for our next goals. Without these goals, especially in exercise, our progress is difficult to measure. Let me give you 10 different types of goals you can set for your health and fitness.

10 Health and Fitness Goals

  • Weight-loss goals.
  • Weight gain goals.
  • Goals to help you with lowering your cholesterol or your blood pressure.
  • A goal to make several trips to the gym in a week.
  • Signing up for a sporting event like a 5k, 10k, or a bike race, or mud run.
  • Trying to reach a higher max for your bench or squat.
  • Diet changes goals, such as: limiting simple sugar, or soda, or alcohol.
  • Set a date to join a recreational sports team.
  • Make it a goal to attend an exercise class.
  • Set a date for a backpacking or hiking trip.

Goal setting can be really fun and motivating too, just make sure you have the right tools to help you out. I use a program called Wunderlist to help me with goal setting and task tracking. Of course, you can just write them down or you can use google calendar or many other digital calendars. I have a post on

I have another post on measuring your workouts that will help you track your goals, along with a post on the value of using a calendar at my exercise blog: itrainerworkouts.com.

The key is writing it down and creating that accountability nag on yourself. When you look at the amazing results of the Harvard MBA students who wrote their goals down, we would be remiss to not follow their lead with our health and fitness goals.

3 thoughts on “10 Exercise Ideas to Start the New Year Strong

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