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Set fitness goals for success during the pandemic

By The Health News Team | September 9, 2020
Woman writing goals in notepad while exercising

Regular physical activity is more important than ever for staying healthy during a pandemic – but it may also seem harder than ever. While limitations and closures of our favorite gyms and fitness centers might reduce exercise options, there are still ways to work out and stay active during isolation.
“For many of us, the struggle isn’t knowing what to do or not having options, it’s actually doing it,” says Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist at Sharp HealthCare. “With so much disruption and uncertainty in our lives, it is simply too tempting to put exercising on the back burner.”
According to Hays, in order to stick with a workout regimen, you need to be intentional about making regular physical activity one of your priorities.

Being SMART about fitness goals

One of the ways to help you remain dedicated to your fitness routine is goal setting. Goals give you something to focus on and significantly improve the likelihood of success. Your fitness goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
For example, instead of simply saying you’re going to “exercise more,” turn it into a SMART goal:

  • Specific – State the objective you wish to meet as specifically as possible: “I am going to commit to doing a full-body video workout several times a week.”

  • Measurable – Identify quantifiable criteria to allow you to measure your progress: “I am going to do this workout three times a week for at least 30 minutes each time. I will track my progress in my workout journal.”

  • Attainable – Your goal should be ambitious, but not impossible: “I am committing to three times a week, not seven times a week, because it is realistic and achievable for me with my current schedule.”

  • Relevant – The goals you set need to align with your current circumstances and priorities: “I will do it to stay healthy and strong during these times and to feel less stressed.”

  • Time-bound – Allocate a specific time period for completing your goal: “I will commit to this plan for a month. In 30 days, I will have had 12 workouts and will reassess my goal after that.”

The SMART format eliminates generalities and guesswork around your intentions and adds a clear finish line. A SMART goal gives you something to strive for and helps you stay accountable and motivated. Sticking to your goals and staying active will give you a sense of achievement and an emotional boost to keep going.
“Don’t leave working out up to chance and hope that you will do it when you have time or feel motivated,” says Hays. “This is less likely to happen with the many disruptions to our routines. Setting SMART goals keeps you accountable and enhances positive behavior patterns to stay physically active during this unique time and beyond.”

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