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SMART Approach to Fitness: A Swedish Perspective

Get Fit: The Smart Way – A Swedish Perspective

Get Set, and Get Fit!

2024 is finally here and guess what? The gyms are packed to capacity with eager-beaver fitness-mongers who have taken a solemn oath to make this the year they kick-start their fitness journey. Yes, it’s that time of the year again when new fitness gear, crowded jogging paths and brisk strolls through the park, become the norm. Let’s delve into why some of us fall off the fitness wagon and how we can stay committed.

When New Year’s Resolutions Take a Tumble

The enthusiasm seen in January is conspicuous by its absence come December. So what causes these well-meaning resolutions to falter? Åsa Tornberg, a physiotherapist and fitness researcher at Lund University, believes the answer lies in pushing too much, too soon.

“People often set unrealistic workout goals for themselves and quickly burn out when the strain gets too much.”
Åsa Tornberg, Lund University

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What’s more, starting too hard and too fast can increase the risk of injuries such as inflamed tendons, shoulder problems and backaches. So, how do we ensure that we keep up with our fitness goals while avoiding these health risks?

Taking the SMART Approach

Tornberg emphasises on the SMART approach to strike a workout balance. Specific, Measurable, Accepted, Realistic and Time-bound. That’s the fitness mantra you need!

The Public Health Agency of Sweden recommends 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise every week. Tornberg suggests starting at 75 minutes/week for the first 3 months, then logically escalating it through the year.

Lifestyle changes such as walking or cycling to work, getting off the bus a stop earlier, and taking the stairs over the elevator can also add to your fitness journey.

Be SMART About Your Workout Plan

If hitting the gym is your go-to workout plan, a good thumb rule for cardio workouts is being able to have short conversations mid-workout. For strength training exercises, make sure you’re able to handle between six and twelve reps at a time.

Setting small, achievable goals is equally important. If you’re planning to run a marathon, for instance, you could aim to be able to run two kilometers without stopping in the first three months.

A big part of staying committed to your fitness goals involves seeking help, whether from fitness communities or from professionals such as physiotherapists and personal trainers.

“Support and guidance is known to help. If you stumble, remember it’s not the end. The important thing is to keep going!”
Åsa Tornberg, Lund University


The intention to be active is a step in the right direction. Pledge to invest in yourself this new year, but remember, slow and steady wins the race! Here’s a quick recap of what the SMART approach to working out entails:

S – Specific: Clearly define what your fitness schedule would look like. Gym? Jogging?
M – Measurable: Like 75 minutes of exercise in a week.
A – Accepted: Make sure your goal is one that you’re excited about and suits your lifestyle.
R – Realistic: Can you achieve this? Do you have the required support?
T – Time-bound: Set a clear deadline for your fitness goal.
Interestingly, you can also apply the SMART approach to other areas of your life, including your work. Let’s get fit, Sweden!

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