Hoping to build healthier habits this summer? These tips, based on guidance presented in Werner W.K. Hoeger and Sharon A. Hoeger’s Fitness and Wellness, Eleventh Edition, will help you develop a wellness plan that directs you towards achievement of your goals. You’ll also stay motivated to achieve them! 

Hoeger and Hoeger recommend setting “SMART goals”: that is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic, and Time-specific (Hoeger and Hoeger, 20). By crafting “SMART goals,” you’ll design a plan that’s inspiring and challenging, yet still within your reach. Here are some tips for getting “SMART” about your goals:


1. Specific goals identify what, exactly, you hope to accomplish. For example, “I want to ride my bicycle more frequently and more quickly” indicates your desire for improvement, but it’s not a specific statement about what you can or will do. Instead, name exactly what you want to achieve: “I want to ride my bicycle five times a week and be able to complete a thirty-mile ride at sixteen miles per hour.” With the help of a doctor or qualified fitness consultant, you can design a specific plan of action that sets you off on the right course for your goals.

Along with the broader goal, you’ll want to include the steps you can take to get there (e.g., specifics regarding your exercise schedule, your diet, and your means of tracking your progress). Hoeger and Hoeger also strongly recommend writing down your goals; the act of writing them out, and sharing them with others, builds accountability.

2. Measurable goals have a specific number or objective attached to them. As another example, “I would like to run faster” speaks generally of what you want, but “I want to run three miles in thirty minutes” contains specific numbers that help you recognize whether or not you’re accomplishing your goals.

3. Acceptable goals are your goals, designed to motivate you. Set your goals with your own desires, needs, resources, and concurrent commitments in mind. Approach your goals with a positive attitude; after all, you’re hoping to see success and positive change!

4. Realistic goals can be attained with your available resources within a reasonable time frame. They should stretch you, but not overtax or discourage you. You may want to train at the gym five evenings a week in order to achieve your overall fitness goals, but given your work schedule and your family commitments, that may not be realistic. Consider a goal that you believe you can achieve. That said, don’t make your goals too easy to reach; that’s not motivating, either!

As you work towards your goal, track your progress in a journal, or in one of the fitness apps available to assist you. Also consider a strategy for working on your goals if an unexpected event arises. Where will you exercise if it’s raining, or if you need to travel? What happens if, out of nowhere, you must take a class that’s at eight each morning, right when you’d plan to hit the gym? Have a plan in place, so that these occurrences don’t derail your progress.

5. Time-specific goals place a specific date on the time frame within which you want to achieve your accomplishment (e.g., “By August 31, I want to complete a 100m swim, without stopping, in two minutes and thirty seconds”). Make the time frame reasonable: far enough ahead that you have the time you need to work on your goal, but not so far in the future that you will be less motivated to strive for it.


Now that you’ve received some tips for building SMART goals, remember the importance of evaluating your goals as you proceed. Maybe you’re proceeding along well, and you’re on track… in which case, keep up the good work! But, perhaps you realize that you’ve already achieved your goal in a shorter time frame; it’s time to create an even more challenging goal! On the other hand, if your progress falls far behind expectations, adjust your goals and plans as necessary. Once you’ve achieved your goals, evaluate your successes and challenges, then look for a new goal to set! (Hoeger and Hoeger, 20-21)


Important note: consult with your physician before embarking on a new exercise regimen. Your physician can conduct any necessary screenings or tests, make any necessary recommendations, and warn you about any existing health conditions that could have an effect on the types of exercise in which you should participate. 

Reference: Hoeger, Werner W.K. and Sharon A. Hoeger. 2015. Fitness and Wellness, 11th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.


How might SMART goals apply to other aspects of your and your students’ lives? Share your ideas in the comments.