How to Develop Exercise Goals that You Can Actually Achieve

Blog image: Setting exercise goals

Most of us have exercise goals that are meant to help us manage our weight, stay active, and boost our overall health. Developing these goals is an important step in beginning or changing your physical activity habits. However, not all goals are created equal.

The Problem with Goal Setting

Sometimes when we set goals, we bite off more than we can chew. Or, the goals we set are too vague and we have a hard time sticking to them.

For example, saying you are going to walk more is a great idea, but if a goal is that vague, it will be easier to come up with excuses. Over time, you might wonder if you really have been walking more, or if you haven’t made much progress at all.

SMART Goals are Better

For more effective goal-setting, try developing SMART exercise goals that follow the FITT principle. This strategy can help you find more success in your health journey, regardless of what you are specifically trying to achieve.

What are SMART Goals?

  • (S) – Specific: Pick one specific behavior to modify per goal.
  • (M) – Measurable: Can you measure this goal against a baseline?
  • (A) – Attainable: Is the goal attainable? Use action words when writing goals. For example, “I can take a walk each night after dinner,” or “I will drink one less can of soda each day.”
  • (R) – Realistic: Do you have realistic and honest expectations of yourself with your time, body, and likes/dislikes?
  • (T) – Timely: Is your timeline for modifications reasonable and manageable?

The FITT Principle:

  • (F) – Frequency: How often will you exercise?
  • (I) – Intensity: How hard will you exercise?
  • (T) – Type: What kind of exercise will you do?
  • (T) – Time: How long will you exercise?

Key Things to Remember

SMART goals that follow the FITT Principle are clearly defined and easily let you know if you are staying on track. However, don’t make the mistake of over-complicating your exercise goals. They should be simple, realistic, and most of all… fun! If you don’t enjoy the exercise you are doing, the harder it will be to stay consistent and meet your goals.

For more information about goal-setting, click here to view the Obesity Action Coalition’s (OAC) Living Well Guide. The OAC is the producer of the Your Weight Matters Campaign.

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