Setting a fitness goal is important to keep you on track and keep your eyes forward to what you want to accomplish. The best acronym to help you figure out how to set your goals is the SMART principle. First, you want a specific goal that is clear that you can understand. Second, a measurable goal that you will know when you have accomplished it. Third this goal could be attainable for you.
I will discuss the could part below. Fourth, it should be relevant to you. Thus, you are motivated to do it. Lastly this goal should be set with some sort of time frame in mind. Especially for older adults it is important to continue setting goals to improve or maintain your fitness level. I will use an example of planning to go on a trip to hike the Grand Canyon to drive home how this way of setting goals that will last can work for you.
The More Specific Your Goal Is, The Clearer Your Know Where You Are Heading To
Making a goal to go on a hike somewhere or for a walk is not specific enough. Pick a specific place. The goal of hiking the Grand Canyon is specific. This is a specific place that you can research on how to best prepare hiking at. How many days would you hike it? How much mileage would you want to cover? You don’t to start mapping out the specific routes, a general target can work. Possibly adding that you want to do two moderate difficulty trails and two easy ones can assist you and one of difficult level can help you make the goal even more specific.
Make Sure Your Goal is Measurable, So You Can Recognise Your Progression and Achievements
The goal has to be more than go check out the Grand Canyon for a couple days. When it is set to hike specific difficulty trails of a certain number you have a goal to meet. You will know after hiking those trails that you can check off that goal. Also knowing the number of trails you want to hike and the difficulty you can decide how to decide which trails you hike on a given day. Possibly you would do the one of most difficulty on its own day. Then the following day you can do two easy trails and maybe one of moderate difficulty. Be strategic!
Even before you hit the trails you will be able to track your progress how you are training for that trip. Your cardiovascular endurance to be able to walk a longer distance will improve. Your practicing hiking trails with walking poles will increase your fitness level and also your confidence in navigating uneven terrain.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up! Goals Need To Be Attainable To Be Motivating
Perhaps there are some mobility problems or you are recovering from a knee replacement right now. Hiking the Grand Canyon may not be attainable in a month. However, setting a goal to enjoy five of the trails of easy difficulty 9 months from now could be attainable. Make that goal high. There is an argument that the goal should be within your reach enough that you have to stretch to get it – but not so high that it is not within your reach. On the other hand if you set your goal out of reach, even if you didn’t reach it you will raise the bar! If you need to improve your balance, then give yourself an attainable date to improve it by. Set yourself up for the success of enjoying that trip and not having to focus on your feet instead of the gorgeous scenery.
Your Reason Is Your Ultimate Motivation
Finding your “why” as to why you want to achieve a goal is important. A why for this amazing hike is to improve your fitness level. Perhaps you are not motivated to just workout at home every week. You see training for this hike as a good way to spark the fire. This goal will motivate you to be more in touch with your body and raise your fitness level!
You Cannot Stay With One Goal Forever
You want to set a deadline or a date for the goal. This time aspect in this instance would largely depend upon not only your schedule but also the weather. Make sure that you are honest with yourself about how long it will take to get in the physical shape to hike all of the trails that you want to hike. You may need to make investments to assist you. Working with a Functional Aging Specialist such as myself can help you improve your balance, agility and mobility for that trip.
Also, that professional has the perspective of useful tools such as proper shoes or hiking poles that can be make the hike less painful for your knees or hips. Lastly, he or she can help you with your plan, keep you on a consistent plan and be your personal cheering section!
When SMART fitness goals don’t work
If a fitness goal is set that is solely based on numbers it can set you up for failure. For instance, the goal is to lose 10 pounds in 2 months. During this time, the focus is entirely on that magic number. That focus on weight loses the big picture of the importance of moving better. I would challenge you that the byproduct of setting a goal of finishing a 5K or hiking the Grand Canyon will still facilitate fat loss when you are sticking to it. In addition, let’s say your goal is the lift 200 pounds. You have succeeded in lifting that amount but your upper body is so tight that your posture is affected. Thus, be careful with making numbers as your goal. You don’t want to have other aspects of your health suffer to meet that number. Think of the big picture.
With that in mind when you set your fitness goals – make it a goal of a kind of test that will show how far you have physically come. Between day one and when you plan to reach your goal you have to line up the aspects of your health, wellness and fitness and make sure that your address each of them.
Your goals are yours – don’t take someone else’s. If yours is to be able to get up from the floor to standing is your goal that is a great goal. Think about the work that it would take to make that happen. As always add consulting your doctor as you are thinking about your goal or after you have decided it. Reach out to Functional Aging Specialists that understand how to work with the older population to help them train f