Study participants: Remember to complete the SMARTER Goal-Setting unit of your Exercise Course
Goal-setting is one of the MOST important components of any new exercise program. If you don’t have a clear idea of what you plan to focus on, you may quickly become frustrated by your exercise efforts. It is also important not to fool yourself. Try not to overshoot. Set some small, realistic, and manageable goals, while also keeping your big picture, long-term exercise objectives in mind. If you have been inactive for more than 3 months, it is probably a good idea to focus on developing a regular exercise routine first. If you find a way to incorporate more physical activity into your daily life, you will notice all kinds of changes which likely include better physical conditioning and may include loss of excess bodyfat.
Rather than focusing on weight loss, we suggest that you aim to improve your overall health & well-being. If you wonder what that might “look like” you can measure changes in well-being by how energetic you feel, reduction in pain or stiffness, improvements in sleep quality, or even how often you get sick. If you find yourself having difficulty setting an exercise-related goal, try this:
Envision yourself 6 months from today. What kinds of changes did you notice?
Now, if you pictured yourself 30 lbs lighter or stronger and “more toned”, then you know you have your work cut out for you. For example, you cannot skip out on your aerobic or resistance training–you need to be consistent doing both types of exercise 3-4 times per week to accomplish these goals. You may also want to set goals related to the total duration of each exercise session or the maximum resistance you are able to push and pull. In contrast, if you saw yourself completing a 10k or half-marathon, you may want to focus more on incrementally increasing the distance of your weekly walks or runs.
Hopefully you can now fill in the blank sticky above. Once you have your goals written down, try posting them strategically at home or work. These notes will serve as daily reminders of what you have set out to do. Lastly, remember that we rarely accomplish goals entirely on our own. Get your friends and family involved. Tell them about your exercise program and what you are working on. This is just another way to increase the likelihood of reaching your self-set exercise goals.