Take the SMART Approach to Exercising Consistently


When it comes to staying healthy and active, exercise is a necessity, but repeating the same workouts week after week can get monotonous. That’s why it’s important to periodically update your personal fitness routine using the SMART approach. The SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound) system can be used in a number of scenarios from project management to personal development, but it’s an especially effective tool when it comes to physical fitness because it establishes clear parameters for measuring progress and creates a series of achievable goals to keep you motivated and engaged.

Let’s take walking as an example using the SMART approach.

First, set a specific goal; it could be walking every morning or walking two-miles a day. Next, measure and record your steps taken using your smart phone or pedometer and write the number in an activity log. Set an achievable/attainable goal that can be measured or quantified, such as walking 2,000 steps each day. If measuring is difficult or impractical, try setting a more general goal, like walking every day with a friend or family member.

You also want to pick a goal that’s realistic given your ability, available resources, and any pre-established parameters. If your specific goal is to walk every morning, set a daily step count you’d like to reach within that set time frame. Time bound is the final piece of the SMART approach. The idea is to frame your progress in terms of time, whether that be time spent exercising or simply setting up a specific time to exercise, like “walk every morning before 9:00 am.”

Check out the SMART approach setup below, and see how you can orient it to your own fitness level.

  • Specific:  Walk every day
  • Measurable: Record the number of steps taken and keep an activity log.
  • Achievable/Attainable: Walk 2,000 steps with a family member or with a friend (maintaining social distance)
  • Realistic:  To start, walk for 10-15 minutes each day, first thing in the morning. Aim for your goal of 2,000 steps.
  • Time bound: Reach 30 minutes per session by four weeks. Walk every morning before 9:00 am.