Did you choose an activity to get your body moving? Great, you are ready for the next part. Your challenge for Week 1 is to set 1 short-term (10 week) physical activity goal and 1 long-term (6 month) physical activity goal.
Why is it important to set physical activity goals?
Before you get started, it helps to know where you plan to go. Setting a goal is a way to identify that destination. Once you have the destination, you can create a plan to get there.
Goal setting for physical activity can:
- Establish a healthy routine
- Help you continually improve your fitness level
- Provide a milestone to celebrate
- Give you a boost in motivation
- Keep you engaged long-term
How do I set an exercise goal?
Sometimes goals look like this: “I want to start exercising or I want to work out more.” Do either of these goals look familiar to you? Many of us have set a goal similar to these. Let’s call them, “traditional goals”. Traditional goals can be vague - lacking a clear, measurable outcome. This makes it difficult to know when you've reached your goal.
We recommend making goals SMART. A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. A SMART goal creates a clear outcome that you can see ahead as you plan the route to achieve it. Use this approach with any of your goals, such as finances, career, and self-care like sleep habits or how many vegetables you eat. We focus on physical activity examples here to help you write out your goals and meet this week’s challenge.
Let’s break down a SMART goal into each part.
Specific: Describe the activity you want to do in detail.
Traditional goal: I want to start exercising.
SMART Goal: I am joining the aerobics class offered at my local gym so I can incorporate a routine exercise and improve my health.
Measurable: You must be able to see yourself making progress.
Traditional Goal: I want to go to the gym and attend more classes. How many more? More than what?
SMART Goal: Over the next 10 weeks, I will continue attending the aerobics class twice a week. With this goal, you can measure the number of times you attend each week.
Attainable: Make it realistic - consider your fitness level, schedule, etc.
Traditional Goal: I am joining the advanced kickboxing classes for a challenge! I will go to every kickboxing class during the week. I’ve got this! The enthusiasm is great but taking an advanced class before you’ve tried a beginner could lead to injury or burnout.
SMART Goal: The gym offers morning and evening classes. I will start with the beginner class in the mornings before work because I have more time in the mornings. I will work my way up to the advanced class once I feel confident I’ve got the routine down. This goal seems possible because there is a clear strategy to reach it.
Relevant: How does this goal fit with your interests, needs, and bigger life goals? How could it improve your well-being?
Traditional Goal: I want to be healthy. What does “healthy” mean to you?
SMART Goal: I’m adding regular classes at the gym to my mornings for a boost in energy and mood that will help me perform better at work. Taking classes in the morning also frees up my evenings for family dinners and trivia nights with friends, activities that improve my emotional well-being.
Timely: Establish a timeline to complete your goal.
Traditional Goal: I want to start…. When? What’s the due date on this?
SMART Goal: By the end of the 10-week program, I will be working out 30 minutes, at least 5 out of 7 days per week. Now we’ve got a deadline. Then, you can divide up those 10 weeks to see what you’d need to do each week to reach the goal.