Learn the S.M.A.R.T Goals of Exercise

Posted 03/07/2016 | By HealthCorps

When it comes to weight loss, the diet component of the “diet and exercise formula” is what will support most of your effort to shed pounds. Exercise can, however, help to nudge pounds off, and it can certainly help with overall energy balance. Being overweight or obese raises your risk of developing a number of health conditions including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cancers and arthritis. Those risk factors apply to children and teens, as well as adults. Research does suggest that following specific exercise formulas is crucial component of a balanced weight loss formula.

Basic exercise principles

Aerobic exercise is considered the foundation of an exercise program. Aerobic exercise elevates your heart rate, which will help to strengthen your cardiac muscle. Aerobic exercise should involve the big muscle groups. Walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming are all examples of aerobic exercise. If you’re taking an aerobics class, the goal of the class is to raise your heart rate through moderate to vigorous movement.

Resistance exercise involves lifting weights or working out on weight machines. The goal of this modality of exercise is to build more muscle mass. If you perform these exercises with short breaks, you will also likely experience an aerobic component.

Flexibility exercises help to improve muscle and body movements.

Balance exercises improve your stability and often involve your core abdominal muscles. Standing on one foot, balancing on an uneven surface, standing and sitting without using your arms are all types of balance exercises.

Ask your healthcare provider for a prescription

If you have health issues, if you do need to lose weight, if you are a beginner, or if more than one of these applies to you, you should ask your doctor for an actual exercise prescription. It should include:

Frequency – How often you should exercise

Intensity – The target heart rate for your aerobic exercise. This can differ based on age, gender and how fit you are for your age. Sometimes a doctor will suggest using the “talk test.” Your goal is to work out with enough intensity that talking becomes difficult but is still possible.

Time – How many minutes of exercise should be performed at each session

Type – Decide how you will approach the four components of exercise. Aerobic and weight training should form the cornerstone of your program with balance and flexibility as additional components.

If you are a senior starting to exercise for the first time, balance may be a more important component. If you are a teen trying to lose weight, you may want to focus on aerobic exercise with strength training helping to preserve muscle mass as you lose body fat.

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals

The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely, which are all necessary parts of your exercise goals, if you plan to sustain the exercise program long term. You need these five parameters to help you to maintain the kind of discipline necessary to reach goals like sustained weight loss or improved health. Keeping an exercise diary and tracking S.M.A.R.T. can help you to remain committed. Wearing a tracking device can also inspire you to stay the course.

Consider checking in regularly with your clinician so your medical records reflect your progress. Your doctor can also help to provide ongoing advice and support.

Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine
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