Our Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Erin Keating discusses setting goals for your health.
It’s that time of year again where the days are longer, the weather is warmer and the silly season is quickly approaching.
With summer just around the corner it is only natural to start thinking about how to begin an exercise program that will help you feel and look your best for all the great activities planned during the warm weather.
So, before we jumping on board with the latest exercise trend or join the nearest gym.
Take a moment and I’ll show you how to get the most out of your exercise program to ensure you are on the right course to achieving your fitness and health goals.
Set SMART Goals
Before we construct your exercise plan, we need to think about what it is you want to accomplish from your exercise regime, how we will measure your success and what goals you want to crush!
This is where we discuss SMART goal setting.
This isn’t a new concept, it is as old as they come but it is tried and tested and is proven to be successful
When setting goals there are a number of elements, to consider in order to make them as clear and as achievable as possible. By using the SMART acronym and working your way from “S” to “T” we can break what you want to achieve down and bring structure to goal setting.
Let’s take a closer look:
I went through this yesterday with my patient Alicia and here is the SMART goal we set together for the next month:
“I will walk 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for the next 3 weeks”.
Whats great is Alicia’s goal is clear, it states what activity she will do which is walking, how it’s to be measured through both time and days per week. Alicia wanted to increase her daily steps for the next month, by following this SMART goal over the time frame of 3 weeks she will be able to achieve her fitness goal.
SMART goals can be set weekly, monthly or twice a year, as long as you follow the principles you will be well on your way to achieving your health and fitness goals.
So you’ve sat down to write your SMART goals, but being new to exercise you don’t know where to begin.
Let me introduce you to another helpful acronym we can implement together: the FITT principle.
Following the FITT principle helps you to design a clear and definitive plan of action that considers all aspects of an exercise routine, making goals more specific and measurable.
The FITT principle asks you to answer four basic questions:
By answering these questions you are able to better plan your program, set goals and achieve results. It can also help you adjust your workouts over time to avoid boredom, plateaus and risk of overuse injuries.
Let’s take Alicia’s SMART goal, walking three times a week for 20 minutes at a moderate intensity is a great place to start for her as she is a beginner. But after a few weeks her body will quickly adapt and get more efficient meaning fewer increases in strength and fitness. When our body does eventually adapt which will always happen we need to go back to our FITT principle and adjust one or more of the variables:
- Change the frequency by adding another day of walking
- Change the intensity by walking faster or adding some running intervals
- Change the time spent walking each workout day increase to 30 minutes instead of 20 minutes
- Change the type of workout by swimming, cycling, running or lifting weights.
Putting it together
The way in which you manipulate your program will always come back to what goal you are trying to achieve for your health and fitness. This is the reason we start by establishing our SMART goals first.
You can never have too many goals, but you can have unattainable goals, so remember to combine the principles of SMART and FITT and you will be on your way to a fitter, stronger and healthier you.
If you need any further guidance on starting an exercise plan or getting the most out of your exercise sessions to achieve your goals, then call the clinic on 029851 5959 or come in and see one of our Exercise Physiologists at Sydney West Sports Medicine.