Healthy Living in the North

Setting SMART goals

This article was written with the support of Mandy Levesque and Marianne Bloudoff. Visit our contributors page for more information about all of our blog authors.


With shorter days and cooler temperatures upon us, many will consider spending more time inside. However, it’s important to keep in mind that our bodies need to keep moving to stay healthy!

We now have more information about how spending the majority of our time sitting is not good for our health. We know that decreased physical activity raises our risk for a number of chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, and can also affect our mental health.

This time of year provides us with a good opportunity to consider physical activity levels, and these tips will help steer you in the right direction:

Set goals for yourself and your family to meet Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines.

Adults need 150 minutes of activity per week. Break that down and it’s just over 20 minutes per day, which should be achievable for most people.

If you’re just starting out, start slow. You can even break the guideline down to bouts of 10 minutes at a time, gradually working your way up to meet the recommendations. The biggest goal for all of us is to move more and sit less every day!

These goals apply to children as well. To achieve health benefits, kids need 60 minutes of activity per day. Make physical activity a priority as a family and reduce sitting and screen time for everyone!

Table defining the SMART goal acronym and providing a sample active living goal.

SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. What are your SMART goals for 2016?

Set SMART goals.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Grab a fitness buddy or activity partner.

Finding someone with whom to share our physical activity goals is one of the best motivators to keep us invested in staying active. Find someone who will go walking or try a new activity with you and make a plan! You’ll get to socialize with your friends or family and it won’t even seem like exercise! This goes for kids, too!

Wear proper footwear.

Having the right footwear for activity will ensure comfort and the ability to continue with the activity of choice. If you’re outside, make sure to have the appropriate footwear with good grip. You can also purchase additional grips for your shoes! Many communities offer indoor walking programs during the winter as well! Walking is one of the single most beneficial things for our health as almost anyone can do it and it’s free!

This winter, I would encourage you to take these tips, find an activity you enjoy, and have a very happy end to 2015 and start to 2016!

Jonathon Dyck

About Jonathon Dyck

Jonathon is a communications officer at Northern Health. Originally from Airdrie, Alberta, Jonathon has a broadcasting diploma from Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alberta, and a BA with a major in communications from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. Jonathon enjoys golf, hockey, curling, hiking, biking, and canoeing. He is also an avid sports fan and attends as many sporting events as humanly possible, including hockey, soccer, baseball, football, rugby, basketball, and lacrosse. (Jonathon no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)



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