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Creating a fit family: How to be SMART about your fitness goals and create a plan that works

By ALETHEA PRICE

Boyle County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Science

We all know we should exercise every day for better health, but fitting it in can be tricky with the demands of home, family and career. If you have fallen off the exercise wagon before you know how easy it is once you miss one day to skip the next one. That’s why it is so important for us to make exercise a daily habit.

Research suggests it takes 21 days of doing an activity before it becomes a habit. Actually, if the habit is a new or a harder one (like exercise), it can take the average person up to 66 days to form a strong habit.

Here are some tips to work exercise into your daily routine:

• Set daily workout reminders. You can do this on your phone or by using an app. Also, it can help to keep a daily activity log.

• Exercise around the same time each day. Try to exercise first thing in the morning or right after work. It is really hard to stay motivated if you go home before hitting the gym. 

• Make your gym clothes visible. Lay your gym clothes out the night before. You may even want to sleep in them if you plan to work out first thing in the morning. If you prefer evening workouts, put them by the door or in your car the night before so you don’t forget them on your way to work.

• Choose goals that are SMART. SMART goals (a commonly used business management acronym) stands for “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.” Make sure to track your progress.

• Post your goals. After you’ve decided what your fitness goals are, post them in a place where you’ll see them. This will help keep you focused. Figure out a healthy reward for yourself when you achieve goals. 

• Switch it up. Pick some activities you enjoy and switch up your routine to make it interesting. Being active does not always mean going to the gym. You can always walk or run outside, or play a sport.

• Exercise around others. Work out with a friend, sign up for a class or meet with a trainer to help you stick to your goal. 

Working out doesn’t have to be a dreaded task like any other daily chore. Being more active can and should be fun. One of my personal favorite tips to getting more active is to work out with others. Find an activity that you enjoy doing and invite a friend. Better yet, make a habit with your family.

While the weather is nice, try taking a walk every day after dinner. There are lots of parks and trails around town that are perfect for a sunset stroll.

Taking time to be active with your family is a great way to also log family time. It doesn’t have to cost a dime to take time to chat and hang out with your family.