Setting SMART Health and Exercise Goals

When we are determined to get fit and healthy, sometimes we aim for the sky and set some big goals, and many times they can be vague.

“I am going to workout more”

“I am going to eat healthier”

“I am going to spend more time on self care”

Whilst all these goals are great, they are not very specific. You have no way of tracking your progress, and no end point to aim for. To put it simply, if your goals aren’t quantifiable, achieving them is more challenging. We can easily feel like we are not doing enough, or feel disillusioned by the whole process without something to aim towards. It’s also easier to talk yourself out of doing them and lead to giving up altogether.

Why Set Goals?

Without clear goals, you wont know if you are making process. The goals you set dont need to be over complicated and you dont need to aim big. Vague goals would be “I want to lose weight” whereas a clear goal would be “I want to half a stone”. Setting a clear goal for weight loss that is quantifiable means you can track your success and you are more likely to achieve it.

As as being a quantifiable goal, losing half a stone is also achievable. Going siraght in with “I want to lose 3 stone” may seem like a good idea, but it can also be overwhelming. If it takes too long, or your weight loss stalls, you can easily be discouraged just by the mammoth task ahead. You can always start small, and when you achieve it, set your next goal.

Whilst it may be possible to lose weight, or make progress in whatever aspect of your life you want toi improve, there is more change of success if you have clear goals set.

Setting SMART Goals

SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. It gives you a specific set of criteria when you are setting goals to ensure your goals are achievable within a certain timeframe.

  1. Specific – For a goal to be effective, it must be specific. It should be clear and have an endpoint. Make sure it’s not too vague.
  2. Measurable – Make sure your goal is quantifiable, so you can accurately track your progress, so you know when your goal is met.
  3. Attainable – If you aim too high, there is more chance you will fall off. Its’s great to be ambitious, but if a goal is too ambitious you will struggle to achieve it, which will make you feel less motivated. Ask yourself if it is realistically achievable.
  4. Relevant – This is a fairly simple one, as the goal must be relevant to what you are trying to achieve. There should be a real benefit attached to your goal.
  5. Time-Bound – Good goals don’t go on forever. Set a timeframe for when you want to achieve it by. This will help keep you focused.

For example, say you wanted to start running. You might declare that you are “going to start going running in the mornings”. Great – but does this adhere to the SMART goal criteria? It’s very vague – when will you go running and how long for? You could just run wherever and for however long, but you haven’t got a focus. What is the end point? How often will you run? Are you intending to run every day, forever? That doesn’t seem achievable!

Instead, you could say that you want to be able to run 5 miles in 50 minutes, within 6 months, and you will run on Tuesday and Thursdays. That is both ‘Specific’ and ‘Measurable’. Depending on your fitness levels, it is also ‘Attainable’. It is ‘Relevant’ because you want to get in shape and it will help you to do this. Lastly its ‘Time-bound’ as you have a date you want to achieve it by.

It might seem overly complex way to set your goals, but it really is a great way to keep yourself motivated. How many times have you told yourself you will start doing something, but gave up along the way? SMART goals keep you focused, and as you see yourself moving towards the finish line, the momentum helps you keep going. If you have set yourself New Years Resolutions, or if something has been on your mind to do, try going though the SMART goals criteria – let us know if it helps you too!




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