Setting Physical Activity Goals

Everyone is motivated by something different, and in order to make physical activity part of your everyday life, it can be helpful to set goals. Goal setting is something that takes practice, and it is important to keep several things in mind as you set goals for yourself.

Make sure your goals are “SMART,” meaning that they are:

  • Specific: When setting a goal, make sure you specify in detail what you are aiming to do. For instance, instead of saying “I will work out more often,” make a goal that says, “I will walk for 30 minutes before work, 4 times this week.” Be as specific as you can. This will help you see exactly what you’re striving for and then implement the right steps to get you there.
  • Measurable: In order to be able to monitor progress, make sure your goal can be measured or quantified. Physical activity goals can be measured in various ways, such as by length of time, frequency, or distance.
  • Attainable: Goals should be something that provide a challenge, but they shouldn’t be too difficult. If they are not attainable, you may lose motivation.
  • Realistic: It is essential that you set a realistic goal for yourself, so that you will be able to achieve it and continue to move forward. For instance, if you are new to running and walking, perhaps set a goal to walk 30 minutes and run for 5 minutes, on 3 different days this week. Having realistic goals can help you to feel encouraged because they are within reach.
  • Time-oriented: It is a good idea to make your goals timely, meaning that you set a goal that you hope to accomplish within a week or two, or that has a timeline associated with it. Short-term goals help you to stay on track and can help you work toward long-term goals.

Reward yourself! When you achieve one of your goals, find a way to reward yourself with a non-food reward. Purchase a new workout top, buy yourself a book you have been wanting, or simply take an hour for yourself to relax.

SMART Goal Setting Template

Use this sheet to write down your SMART goal, and then print it out and put it somewhere you will see it every day!

Here is an example of a SMART goal:

I will jog for 25 minutes, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this week, at 7 am, on the bike path behind my house. When I achieve this goal, I will reward myself with buying a new workout top.