Setting SMART Health Goals for a Healthier Life with Arthritis

Living with arthritis presents unique challenges, but setting goals can be a great tool for helping manage your condition and improve your overall wellbeing.

One effective approach to goal setting is using the SMART criteria – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. 

In this article we’ll explore how applying SMART goals can empower people living with arthritis to take control of their health and improve their quality of life.

1. Specific

When setting goals, be clear and specific about what you want to achieve. Instead of a vague goal like “exercise more”, consider specifying “walk 30 minutes every morning” or “complete 15-minute stretching routine before bedtime”.

Specific goals provide a clear direction and can help you focus your efforts.

Example: “Perform joint-friendly exercises for 20 minutes, three times a week, to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness”.

2. Measurable

Make your goals measurable to track progress and celebrate achievements. Quantify your objectives so that you can assess your success over time. This might involve measuring time, distance, repetitions, or any other relevant metric.

Example: “Increase the range of motion in my affected arthritic joint (i.e. shoulder, knee or hip) by 10% within the next two months”. 

Another example can include: “eat 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit a day”.

3. Achievable

Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable. While it’s essential to challenge yourself, setting goals that are too ambitious or too challenging may lead to you being frustrated and giving up.

Consider your current health status, daily commitments, and physical limitations when establishing achievable goals.

Example: “Gradually increase the duration of low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming or cycling, to a total of 150 minutes per week”.

4. Realistic

Being realistic makes sure the goals align with your circumstances and capability. This makes sure whatever you would like to do aligns with your overall wellbeing and specific challenges posed by arthritis.

Realistic goals are connected to your health priorities and lifestyle. Consider how each goal contributes to managing arthritis symptoms and improving your quality of life.

Example: “Incorporate joint-friendly activities like swimming and yoga to improve flexibility and reduce pain”.

5. Timely

Set a time-frame for achieving your goals to create that sense of ‘urgency’ and motivation. Having a deadline encourages consistency and helps you stay on track. Make sure to use ‘realistic’ time-frames.

Break down larger goals into smaller, time-bound milestones.

Example: “Complete an arthritis-friendly workout, such as joining Arthritis Moves or Dance Moves, for a 12-week period.”

Living with arthritis doesn’t mean compromising on your goals and health aspirations. By applying the SMART criteria to your goal-setting process, you can create a roadmap for a healthier and more active life.

Whether the goals involve exercise, nutrition, stress management, relationships, or other aspects of wellbeing, the SMART approach provides a structured and effective way to turn your intentions into achievements.

Remember to consult with your healthcare professionals to tailor your goals to your specific needs and get the support needed on your journey to a healthier life with arthritis.

Breanna Jones
Health Promotions Coordinator
Arthritis Queensland

November 2023