12 realistic goals that health and wellbeing experts are setting for 2024 - and how you can achieve them, too

Repeat after me: progression, not perfection.

Fitness goals: Women high fiving
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Plan on setting a health or fitness goal for 2024? You’re in very good company. Making a New Year’s resolution is something a casual 35 million people in the UK intend to do, according to a recent survey, with the most popular aspiration in 2024 expected to centre around health. 

First off: goal setting is pretty great. Along with helping you achieve your ambitions, drive motivation and facilitate growth, fitness app Strava found that 94% of athletes who practise goal setting remain active nine months later.

And while that’s all well and good for athletes, what does the research say for the likes of you and I? Well, a study found that New Year’s resolutions can have "lasting effects" - participants with approach-oriented goals were "significantly more successful" than those with avoidance-oriented goals. 

Keen to set some fitness goals but not sure where to start? First things first - we're not about 101 unattainable goals that you'll never stick to here at Marie Claire UK. Rather, small, sustainable changes that add up to a bigger whole. Whether 2024 nthe year you give functional fitness the thumbs up or learn how to journal, Ciana Glynn, holistic wellness coach, personal trainer and founder of The Wellness Primer recommends taking some time to yourself and thinking about what it is you truly want. “What do you want to accomplish with your health?,” Glynn asks. “How do you want to look and feel? Is there anything in particular that has been on your mind lately that you want to do but just haven’t? Next, write it all down."

To help you find some more inspiration, we've spoken to some of the UK's top wellbeing experts to hear what fitness goals they’ll be working towards in 2024, plus their tips on how to actually stick with them. While you’re here, do check out our guides on how to make your goals a reality, the best self care ideas and how to reframe negative thoughts, too.

12 fitness goals health and wellbeing experts are setting themselves for 2024

1. Doing the work

Heard of the phrase? Essentially "doing the work" encompasses the act of personal growth, motivation and healing and it’s something clinical nutritional therapist, Grace Kingswell will be stepping into in 2024. 

“I’m committed to working through some trauma-releasing therapies,” Kingswell tells Marie Claire UK. “I used to feel a bit cringey at this 'Americanism’, but I'm actually really getting into it now — I’m loving doing the work.”

“I've been on quite the fertility journey, and my son was conceived via IVF and then delivered by C-Section,” Kingswell explains. “I have quite a lot of trauma relating to the two gynae operations I had, one age 17 and one age 22 — the latter of which left me infertile.” 

To help, Kingswell has been doing a daily meditation practice, daily grounding and earthing with her outdoor cold showers and mantra. She also started experimenting with ecstatic dance too. 

Tips to achieve this goal? “The body holds trauma on a very physical level,” Kingswell says. “Often, talking therapies just don't cut it and we need to move and feel and do somatic work to actually release stored trauma. I can highly recommend breathwork, vagal nerve stimulation (cold water dipping is great for this, but so too is humming, singing, tapping), dance, physical touch and anything else that really speaks to you.”

2. To prioritise balance

Ah, the B word. After a busy festive season, balance is something we could all use some more of - and according to Natalie Rose, personal trainer, founder of Body By Barre Studio and creator of the viral 3-2-8 method, it’s something she’ll be living by for 2024. 

“I want to prioritise balance in every area of my life and create a sustainable fitness routine that doesn't cause burnout, overwhelm or add extra stress on top of my already hectic life,” she told MC UK. To do so, Rose will be incorporating the low-impact training essentials: like weight training, Pilates, walking, mobility and Barre, which are all at the core of her 3-2-8 workout method. 

“I know this will encourage me to listen to my body, energy levels, menstrual cycle and mood and create a happier and healthier version of myself,” she says. “It supports a balanced training approach which in turn supports me and my overall well-being.”

Tips for sticking with it? “A balanced approach to exercise is vital to achieve goals,” Rose says. “The 3-2-8 method is a proven action plan for this.” To hit your step goal, Rose recommends power walking. She also suggests keeping a training journal and listening to your body. “When you're tired, opt for a walk or Pilates,” Rose adds. “When you're energised, it’s time to ramp up the intensity. You'll start to notice patterns to further support your fitness journey and make conscious choices with your routine.”

3. Dedication to daily health and wellbeing practices

2024 is set to be a big year for former Special Forces and face of SAS Who Dares Wins, Ollie Ollerton, who has a mountain to climb (literally) as he’ll be conquering Everest. 

“I'll be increasing my training to prepare for that and also preparing my body for the challenges of altitude,” Ollerton says. “But the main thing I want to work on in 2024 is consistent discipline and dedication to my daily health and wellbeing practices, like breathwork, meditation, saunas and ice baths.”

Meditation and regular use of an infrared sauna is something Ollerton has done for a while. But this year, he’s started to explore breathwork and cold plunging. “These practices get your body into a state of homeostasis, which is essentially brain and heart coherence,” he says. “It's the opposite of a stressed survival state and the perfect balanced platform from which to create. Plus, I always think that we should be seeking to keep challenging ourselves and pushing the boundaries of our comfort zones.”

Tips for sticking with it? “Understand that the most important project is you,” Ollerton says. “Regardless of what’s going on in your life, try and take five minutes to just sit and breathe. It really can be that simple and you will feel better for it,” he adds. 

4. Gaining muscle

While Nicky Simbotin, who’s a personal trainer for Crazy Nutrition, is no newbie to weight training, she’ll be making 2024 the year she once again creates a strong weight training routine. 

“In 2024, my primary fitness and wellbeing goal is to focus on muscle gain and establish a strong workout routine,” she says. So what’s driving her to elevate her physical strength, endurance, and overall athletic performance? “The motivation behind this goal comes from my aspiration to compete again in 2025, as I’m a bikini athlete,” Simbotin explains. “Achieving this goal will enhance my competitive edge, boost my confidence and contribute to a more resilient mindset.”

Tips for sticking with it? Simbotin says: “I recommend maintaining a consistent workout schedule, adopting a nutritionally balanced diet with a focus on protein intake." Protein is a non-negotiable in her diet, she shares. That said, she also suggests prioritising adequate rest and recovery and seeking guidance from fitness experts to tailor a plan that aligns with individual needs and aspirations.

5. Running your furthest distance yet

Good things come to those that run - you'll likely know there are a whole heap of running benefits. But if you're keen to run your furthest distance yet in 2024, you're not alone. 

Ultra-marathon trail extraordinaire, Sarah Riandet, who’s also a 3 hour 30 marathon runner, has competed in a number of international ultra-marathons ranging from 50k trail races to multi-stage mountain ultramarathons. These include the Ultra X World Championships in 2022 and 250 km around Kilimanjaro in 2023. She's now set her sights on adding another race to the list in 2024: the North Downs Way 100 miler

“To be able to do this, I’ll need to be more consistent with my fitness routine and spend time outdoors every day,” Riandet, who works at Enertor and helps runners and athletes stay pain and injury-free. “It might be difficult to maintain on a daily basis with priorities getting in the way, but it doesn’t have to be about 15,000 steps every day,” she explains. “A 20-minute stretch in the local park, running around the block or walking to meet a friend all count towards better self-care and training recovery especially preparing for such a demanding challenge!”.

Tips for sticking with it? “Firstly, don’t set overly challenging expectations for yourself,” Riandet says. “If the goal is to move every day, assess how you feel on a given day and tailor your activities to match your energy levels and circumstances.” 

Riandet also recommends paying attention to your body. “It’s easy to accumulate strain without proper support,” she says. And lastly? “Find ways to hold yourself accountable,” Riandet says. “Even as a seasoned runner, I make sure to catch up weekly with running buddies and am part of a run club to make sure to turn up even on a rainy day."

6. Swim once a week

You heard it here first: cold water therapy is still trending and we’re all for it, especially after a recent 2022 study confirmed that voluntary exposure to cold water has some "beneficial health effects."

In particular, taking a cold dunk is believed to boost the immune system, improve circulation, deepen sleep, boost energy levels, reduce inflammation, improve metabolic function and improve mood. And it’s for all these reasons and more that Hollie Grant, Pilates instructor and founder of The Bump Plan, has made it her mission to get some vitamin sea (see what we did there). 

“Now I live by the sea in Dorset, my goal is to swim once a week all year round,” she tells us. “When we first moved here, I was pregnant and had a horrific chest infection that broke my rib, so I didn’t manage to swim that much. But in 2023, I’ve managed every week since July. Next year I want to continue this because, as a mum of two and founder of a fast-growing business, it's the one time of the day I have no one needing me or vying for my attention. I can’t be distracted by my phone or emails - it's welcomed me to a world of incredible women who also love sea swimming, too.”

Tips for sticking with it? According to Grant, getting the right equipment is crucial. “I have a dry bag that doubles as a float which I can put my phone and clothes in, but also use as a safety backup should I ever get in trouble in the water,” she explains. Grant also has a Yulex long sleeve swimsuit, gloves and boots from Zone 3 that help "take some of the edge" off the initial cold shock. 

7. Improving sleep quality

“As a founder of a growing business that requires so much time, mental clarity and focus, it’s so important to me to wake up feeling energised and on top of my game,” Louise Macnab, founder of JERMS tells us. 

So for Macnab, 2024 is all about prioritising her slumber. “Research has shown that REM (rapid eye movement) sleep) - the deepest stage of sleep - can help creativity, memory and problem solving,” she says. “Beyond this, good quality sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being because it plays a vital role in so many of your bodily functions, from hormonal regulation to immune function and even mood regulation."

“When you’re in deep sleep, your body is in recovery mode. It’s like hitting the reset button for your mind and body.”

Tips for sticking with it? “It’s not about just getting in more hours, but focusing on that quality, undisturbed deep sleep,” Macnab says. From reducing alcohol consumption to mouth taping, these are just a few sleep techniques that can better your sleep quality. 

Did you know? Focusing on your gut health can help too. Macnab explains: “Your gut microbiome regulates the production and distribution of many different hormones, including the sleep-inducing ones: dopamine, serotonin, GABA and melatonin.” Macnab says that an unbalanced gut microbiome can throw these hormone levels out of sync, which can in turn negatively affect sleep and vice versa.

8. Setting words of intention

If you've set New Year's resolutions in the past only to feel overwhelmed by day three, know this: you're not alone. That's why Sarah Jones St John, energy healer and founder of wellness space Grey Wolfe, will be setting a word of intention rather than making a long list of unattainable to-do's. 

“Whether you choose one word or several, these can provide a way to help you grow and develop in areas that are important to you this coming year,” she explains. “Instead of a rigid resolution, a word of the year is your constant yet gentle reminder to focus on creating positive change. Use your word to help guide your decisions and continue moving towards what you want.”

Tips for sticking with it? “I challenge you to take some time,” Jones St John says. “Go for a walk, take a long shower, sit outside (or inside if it is cold), and really think: ‘if you were to embark on a journey of intention this year, what word would be your guiding light?’ Once you’ve picked it, set it as your phone’s lock screen. Write it on the bathroom mirror (in dry-erase marker), frame it on your desk or your nightstand. Keep it in the forefront of your mind and use it to set smaller monthly goals throughout the year.”

9. Practising mindfulness and meditation

“I'm very much about looking after both the physical and mental aspects of one’s health as a lot of the time, mental strength is required to overcome physical barriers, pain or discomfort,” Philip Cox, The HVN’s resident osteopath tells us. “Having recently completed a course in mindfulness and meditation, my intention in 2024 is to keep this practice going daily as a positive habit to improve my own wellbeing.”

Most of us know all too well how busy and stressful daily life can be but that’s where relaxation techniques, like meditation and mindfulness, swoop in to save the day.  

“I find it very helpful to have coping techniques to help reduce this stress but like learning any new skill or approach, it is only effective through regular practice,” Cox says. “I want to develop this sense of discipline every day to promote my own sense of wellbeing but also so I am as present as I can be with my patients.”

Tips for sticking with it? “Don’t be too critical,” Cox says. “Changing habits and developing positive change takes time and patience.”

10. Committing to yoga each week

If you've attended a range of yoga classes or followed some flows online, you'll know that the benefits of yoga span both physical and mental. So it’s no wonder why RunRepeat reports that 460,000 Brits practise this form of movement each week. 

The latest yogi to commit to the crew? Trail running ultra-runner, co-founder and trustee of Black Trail Runners, run coach and personal trainer Sabrina Pace-Humphreys. “I've been told so many times that Yin Yoga would be a great practice for me as an ultra runner. Rather than nodding and saying, ‘I’ll try that one day’, I want to commit to at least an hour a week in 2024,” she says — and for valid reasons. 

“I believe that holding specific poses for a set amount of time will really help me to understand areas of weakness,” Pace-Humphreys explains. “It'll give me a chance to block out everything else and just focus, in stillness, on my body and mind. I need to achieve more of this in my life in order to give to my family, friends and wider community. I believe this could be the route to staying physically and mentally at my best for years to come.”

Tips for sticking with it? “For me, it’s about blocking out the time,” Pace-Humphreys explains. “There is absolutely no point in me "wishing" for it to happen. If  I've paid for it, put it in my diary, and am expected to be there, it'll help me create a routine which leads to consistency and a habit being formed.”

11. Amplifying energy, enhancing inner peace and bringing more joy

“As a professional sobriety and life coach, my fitness and wellbeing goals for 2024 are rooted not in the traditional sense of altering behaviours or reshaping my body, but in nurturing how I want to feel internally,” founder of Love Life Sober, Christy Osborne tells us.

Therefore, in 2024, Osborne’s primary goal is to deeply engage with activities and routines that "amplify energy, enhance her peace, and bring more joy and authenticity into her life." An intention we can all get behind, right?

“Activities like playing padel not only boost my physical fitness but also enrich my mental health, offering joy and a deep sense of connection with others and myself,” she says. Osborne will also be continuing to limit caffeine and sugar intake and maintain a consistent bedtime routine. “Aiming for a 9 PM bedtime isn’t just about getting enough sleep; it’s about respecting my body’s need for rest.”

Tips for sticking with it? “The key is to start each day with a simple yet profound question: ‘How do I want to feel?’,” Osborne says. “This question serves as a compass, guiding your choices throughout the day. Whether the aim is to eat healthier, increase physical activity, or reduce sugar and alcohol intake, focusing solely on these actions can feel daunting. Instead, shift the focus to the desired feelings – more energy, clarity, joy, or peace – and let these guide your decisions.”

12. Improve your running time

Last but by no means least, Senior Health Editor at Marie Claire UK and nine-times marathon runner Ally Head has a few goals in mind for 2024 - but most importantly, she wants to continue to chip away at her 5km, 10km and half marathon PB's.

"I've run a marathon every year since 2018, but won't be doing the full distance next year," she shares. Wondering why? "I've really worked on slowing down my schedule this year and can't believe how much it's benefitted both my physical and mental health," she shares. "That said, I still love having a goal to work towards, especially when it comes to my running. It holds me accountable and keeps me moving forwards."

Whatever your current personal best, she advises getting a race booked in and paid for so you have an end goal in mind. Then, get training -  her favourite sessions include interval workouts where you're focused on speed. "I went from a 4 hour 11 minute marathon to a 3 hour 15 minute personal best in the space of five years thanks to consistency and working on my strength and speed." 

Tips for sticking with it? Word of warning on this one - Head stresses that if you don't like running, then it's worth aiming for another form of PB, instead. "The key is to find a workout you love and look forward to doing. Your PB goal this year might be to back squat 20kg for the first time, try a yoga inversion, or even try a whole meditation without your mind wandering. PB's will look different from person to person - what's key is setting a realistic one that you think you could feasibly achieve, if you put the work in." 

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What is an example of a fitness goal?

Want to run a quicker 5K PB? Interested in achieving your first pull up? Or have you got your heart set on holding a crow yoga pose? These are all great examples of fitness goals. But just remember: “Everyone’s fitness goals are unique to their desired outcome,” Ciana Glynn, holistic wellness coach, personal trainer and founder of The Wellness Primer tells us. 

“Perhaps you want to build more muscle and get stronger, or get those abs of your dreams, or your goal could be simply to move a little more and get 5-10k steps in every day,” Glynn adds. But no matter how far you get with your goals, remember that it’s best to keep in mind it’s always ‘progression over perfection’. “So just keep moving forward,” recommends Glynn. 

Rebecca Shepherd
Health Contributor

Rebecca, or Becks, is a freelance journalist with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She specialises in all things health and lifestyle and has written for a number of brands including Women's Health, Stylist, the Evening Standard, Good Housekeeping, The Telegraph, Live Science, Tom's Guide and Fit&Well. Becks also writes copy for a number of brands and small businesses. 

When she's not weight training, tracking down the best gym leggings, reading a book or at her desk typing away, you'll find her in the kitchen perfecting a new recipe or bake.