Fitness beginnings: Physical activity goal setting

Published 6:00 am Monday, June 4, 2018

You may have recently made a decision to get healthier but may not know where to start. Adding physical activity to your routine is a great way to improve your mind, mood and body.

Adults need 150 minutes of physical activity each week. While this may seem overwhelming, you can split up over the week, but keep it in 10-minute segments. Set an appointment and keep it with yourself each day to ensure you meet this goal.

Now that you are determined to increase your physical activity. Think about your health goals and how increasing your movement will help you achieve them. Remember to set SMART goals or ones that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

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A specific goal should clearly spell out what you want to achieve, where it will take place and the time period. An example of a specific goal is walking for at least 30 minutes, in your neighborhood, five days a week.

Once you’ve decided on specifics, figure out how you will measure your progress. You need to think about amounts of activity and the length of time.

Often, we want immediate success. That’s where the attainable part of SMART goal setting comes in. Attainable means the goal is realistic and something you can do. As much as we would all like lose 20 pounds in two weeks, the chances are highly unlikely that it will happen. In fact, most people trying to lose weight should aim to lose about 1-2 pounds per week for healthy and sustainable weight loss. Keep that in mind as you are setting your fitness goals.

The next step is for you to examine the importance of the goal relevant to where you are in your life. For example, you may not necessarily be interested in weight loss right now but may instead choose to add physical activity to reduce stress or improve your mood.

The last part of SMART is timeliness. This is when you set time to complete your goal, whether it is short or long term. For example, one goal may be to lose 15 pounds within two months. A long-term goal could be to maintain that weight loss for an entire year.

For more information on physical activity goal setting, contact the Bell County Extension office.

Rebecca Miller is the Bell County extension agent for family and consumer sciences. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin. Source: Natalie Jones, UK physical activity program coordinator.