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You have decided to incorporate exercise into your wellness regimen. It’s time to start setting benchmarks on your path to good health.

It’s easy to think, “I’m going to start jogging” and try (and most likely fail) to run a few miles on your first day breaking in your new sneakers. Similarly, a long-distance ride when you haven’t been on a bicycle in years can also lead to a disappointing outcome.

The excitement of commencing a new exercise plan can overwhelm your physical capabilities. These kinds of unrealistic expectations can frustrate and derail any fitness plan and may also result in injury.

The key to success is setting short-, intermediate-, and long-range goals. If you haven’t exercised in some time, start small. For example, walk for a set period of time five days a week. After you have achieved that goal, increase the time spent walking as an intermediate goal. A long-range goal may be to finish a 5K walk.[1]

These may seem like baby steps, but you’re moving. And that’s the first step to fitness.

[1] For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Aim to incorporate strength training exercised of all the major muscle groups into your fitness routine at least twice a week. Retrieved on Nov. 2, 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20047624.