Setting Physical Activity Goals Back »

Engaging in regular exercise and physical activity is essential to living a healthy life. Regular physical activity has multiple health benefits, including but not limited to, a reduced risk of stroke, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and depression, prevention of weight gain, and improved cognitive function in older adults. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. For some, a serious behavior change is needed and for others, a modification to current behaviors is more appropriate.

When adopting or modifying a physical activity routine, it is important to set realistic goals. Too often, individuals expect to lose unrealistic amounts of weight, run faster and longer, and start seeing drastic body composition changes instantly. Instead, use the acronym S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) to set your physical activity goals. Specific is the what, where and how of the goal. Measureable is how you will evaluate whether or not you met the goal. Achievable is setting a goal that you can accomplish. Realistic is setting a goal that is challenging, but attainable. Timely relates to when you want to achieve your goal by, and what time frame you have to reach your goal.

The FITT (Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type) principle is a concept designed to give basic guidelines for individuals and their exercise routines. This principle will help aid in setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

The FITT concept can be further described as follows:

  • Frequency: refers to the how often an exercise or physical activity is performed. Frequency is typically shown in days per week.
  • Intensity: refers to the physical effort required to perform physical activity or exercise. Intensity can vary between light, moderate and vigorous intensity activities. For example, walking slowly is a low intensity activity, walking briskly or shooting around a basketball is a moderate intensity activity, and running (>5mph) is a vigorous intensity activity.
  • Time: refers to the amount of time an activity or exercise is performed (i.e. 30 minutes or 60 minutes).
  • Type: refers to the specific mode of exercise or physical activity (i.e. running, biking, weight training).

Putting the FITT principle together, one can effectively plan an exercise routine and set a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

Below is a sample aerobic exercise routine for one week:

Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
OFF
Running

30 min @
vigorous
intensity
OFF
Running

45 min @
moderate
intensity
Running

30 min @
moderate
intensity
OFF
Running

45 min@
moderate
intensity

  • Frequency: 4 X per Week
  • Intensity: Moderate – Vigorous
  • Time: 150 minutes per week, 30 minute and 45 minute bouts
  • Type: Running

If you are new to exercise, please check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.


For more information, contact Nikki Prosch at the Watertown Regional Extension Center at 605.882.5140

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