Over 70 and Fit: Setting Goals

Swimming fitness
At the age of 50, my first competitive swim in Delta. I had no idea that in my 800m event the only other swimmer was Ralph Hutton. He was a former world record holder.

I’m Barrie, and I warmly welcome you to the third post on my blog Over70andfit, which is published bi-weekly.

Congratulations, you have chosen your exercise activity and you are motivated!

Another integral source of motivation is creating a goal to aspire to. Setting a goal to reach will make a significant difference in your progress. The SMARTER acronym is a popular method used for goal-setting.

SPECIFIC – Instead of simply saying, “I want to get fit”, make your goal more specific, for instance, “I want to walk for 20 minutes three times weekly”.

MEASURABLE – Ensure you will know when you have reached your goal, using distance, time or number of steps will make this easier to accomplish.

ACHIEVABLE – Make sure that your goals are realistic. For example, a beginning runner with a goal of running a marathon within 6 months is unrealistic. On the other hand, an overweight person setting a goal of losing 1 pound in 3 months is too easily attainable.

REALISTIC – The beginning walker’s goal is more realistic if her goal is to reach 3 km in 3 months.  The overweight person’s goal could be to lose 5 pounds in 3 months.

TIME-BOUND – Give yourself a deadline to reach your goal and stick to it.

EXCITING – As the endorphins kick in – those little critters which generate highs – you will become more excited as you exercise and attain your goals.

RECORDED – In a journal, record your goals, time/distance, feelings on the day and exercise comments – these will help you monitor your progress and make your goals more attainable.

Many people are overwhelmed by the thought of exercising because making big changes can seem unsurmountable, but by making your goals small and attainable the challenge will seem less daunting.

My Accident

A few months ago, a car reversed into me while I was walking on the sidewalk. I broke 10 ribs and vertebrae. In recovering, I began with a small goal: to walk one km daily. As I healed, I increased this to 1.5 km, then 2 km and eventually 3 km. I am assessing my goals on the go. It will be a long haul for me to attain my previous level of fitness but I am totally determined that this will happen.

Advantages of Goals

One of the advantages of setting goals is that they are not etched in stone; they are flexible and you can adjust them anytime and set interim goals. I know that as I recover from my accident, I will constantly re-evaluate my progress and change my goals.

It is very important to start your exercising slowly and increase the time and intensity as you build up your fitness level – small incremental steps.


Do start a journal. You can document everything which happened on the day: how much you exercised for, how comfortable you felt, how you met your goals, your highs and lows, anything which you might do differently in future, and any other information which will help you on your journey. You can record what went right and what went wrong. From these personal observations, your exercise routine will provide a wealth of information to draw upon in the future.


  • decide why you want to change your lifestyle
  • choose an exercise which will appeal to you
  • choose one which will most motivate you
  • set realistic goals
  • for your exercise period, decide how many minutes or how many steps you wish to take
  • open a journal
  • give yourself a huge pat on the back for beginning to exercise

Please feel free to share your comments and questions.

Do remember to keep hydrated and drink lots of water.

In my next blog, I will discuss the merits of evaluating your progress.

You are ready for blast-off but before doing so you may want to read blog 4 (setting benchmarks so that you can evaluate your progress) and blog 5 (heart rate) – though this is not entirely necessary.

Yours in fitness,



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Peter Nicholson

Hi Barrie,
Great tips again this week.

Michael Canic

The SMARTER acronym for goal-setting is very helpful. Previously, I used “SMART” but your version is, well, smarter!

What happened to the world record-holder in your swim race? Do he end up choking on the froth left in your wake?

Heather Engqvist

Thank you for this site. I am in need of encouragement and advise.

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