Goal Setting and Exercise Plans

SMARTER goal setting is an approach to goal setting which involves breaking a broad goal into smaller steps so you are more likely to achieve it. Each letter in the word “SMARTER” stands for a specific directive to follow.

  • Specific: Be specific about what you want to accomplish. If you have a broad goal, break it down into smaller steps. Outline how you will know when you have met each goal. For example, decide that you want to do 60 minutes of physical activity each week.

  • Measurable: Your goal should be measurable in concrete terms. For example, you plan on taking a 20 minute walk, three times per week.

  • Attainable: Your goal should be realistic and possible given your circumstances (for example, the state of your health). Consider any potential problems and how you might mitigate them. For example, it may suit your schedule to keep a pair of running shoes at work and take a quick walk on your lunch break.

  • Relevant: Your goals should be important to you. They shouldn’t be decided or influenced by anyone else. Everyone’s situation is unique.

  • Time-limited: Your goal should have a specific start and end date. For example, you will begin your 60 minutes of physical activity next week, and after two months, you will increase it to 90 minutes.

  • Evaluate: Making your goal measurable will allow you to evaluate how you’re doing and make any changes if necessary. For example, you may use a calendar to mark off the days you walk and record how long. You may find that you’re walking longer than you set out to, and may want to increase your goal sooner. You may realize that work is getting too busy, so you switch your walking schedule from a lunchtime break to a stroll around the neighbourhood after work.

  • Reward: Plan something to celebrate your success at different intervals. For example, the first week or month into your goal, treat yourself to a night with friends or a new pair of running shoes.

Don’t forget to share your goal with people who care about you, such as your healthcare provider, friends, and family, so they can support you and help increase your motivation.

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association has a public website that allows you to find a physiotherapist in your province. You can also speak to your healthcare provider about getting a referral to physical therapist. 

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