Setting SMART fitness goals to keep active over lockdown

Setting fitness goals can help you make positive changes and keep you motivated to exercise. Staying motivated can be difficult, especially throughout a lockdown, so it can be helpful to have an action plan to keep you on track.

Common goals:

Lose weight

Become healthier

Get fitter

Be stronger

These are all great long-term goals to have, but it can be really helpful to break these down and make short-term goals for yourself which are measurable and achievable within a set timescale. So rather than saying “my goal is to be stronger”, your first short term goal could be “I am going to do resistance training twice a week during the November lockdown to help me become stronger”. Or you might begin with a very specific goal of “I am going to do 10 push ups every day this week”, then progress to 15, 20, 25 a day as you become stronger. Start off with a very realistic and easy to achieve short-term goal in order to boost your confidence and belief that you will be able to achieve your long-term goals.

Having achievable, measurable short-term goals will help you to succeed with your long-term goals. Once you’ve achieved your first short-term goal, add another goal which will take you a step further towards your long-term goal. Continuing with the example above, you could say “After the November lockdown, I will do resistance training 3 times a week until Christmas to help me become stronger”. Setting and completing these small challenges will help you to track your progress and keep you motivated. Think of your short-term goals as steps on a ladder, or stepping stones across a river. You can’t just jump to the top of the ladder, or leap across the river in one go, you have to take those smaller steps in order to get there.

Make sure you reward yourself for achieving your goals (although perhaps not with a giant tub of ice cream if your goal is to lose weight by eating healthier foods!), but treat yourself to a bunch of flowers or book yourself in for a post-lockdown pampering treatment. Even just celebrating your success by telling a friend and hearing some kind words in return can be really motivating.

Below is a printable action plan to help you set your own short and long term health and fitness goals. Remember to use the SMART method when setting your goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Put your action plan somewhere prominent so you’ll see it each day, pin it on the wall or even use it as your phone wallpaper, just don’t just pop it away in a drawer and forget about it. Having a visible plan will provide you with a focus and motivation.

S Make your goal specific. Think about exactly what it is you want to achieve.

M Make your goal measurable. Ensure you can quantify your goal, eg how much weight / how many reps / how many times a week.

A Make your goal attainable. Start small in order to make good progress in the long term.

R Make your goal relevant. You have to want to achieve your goals, so think about the reasons you are setting them and make sure your goals are meaningful to you. Also consider whether your goals fit in with your current lifestyle and are appropriate for your current level of fitness.

T Make your goal timely. Think about setting a deadline for your short-term goals, within a longer timeframe, leading up to the deadline for completion of your long-term goal. You can always modify this along the way, it’s just a guide and not set in stone. Adjusting the deadline does not mean you failed.

Examples of a lockdown goal:

“My goal is to stay active throughout the lockdown” or “My goal is to make sure I do the recommended amount of exercise to stay fit and healthy during the lockdown”.

We now need to make this more specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely:

“My goal is to stay active throughout the lockdown, by completing 30 minutes of physical activity on 5 days per week during November”.

“My goal is to stay active throughout the lockdown by going for a 30 minute walk, 5 days per week during November”.

“My goal is to stay active throughout the lockdown by taking part in 30 minute online fitness classes, 5 days per week during November”.