It’s that time of the year again, when people are purchasing healthy foods, renewing gym memberships, and getting to bed at a reasonable hour in an effort to improve their physical and mental well-being, including their heart health.  However, New Year’s resolutions are often unrealistic, unattainable goals that we set for ourselves and because of this, we often fail to achieve them. One way to overcome these setbacks is to employ the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting method.

S.M.A.R.T is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. In other words, S.M.A.R.T goals can be viewed as small check points along the way to achieving your more general goals.

Let’s take a look at a possible goal related to your heart health. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, physical activity can prevent and control factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity, which can dramatically lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Incorporating regular aerobic activity into your daily routine can make for a great New Year’s resolution.

Here’s an example of how to use the S.M.A.R.T goal methodology to improve your overall physical activity:

Specific – Be specific by choosing a type physical activity such as walking, jogging, etc.

Measurable – Make sure your progress can be measured. For example, choosing a set duration or distance for the physical activity.

Attainable – Make sure the physical activity fits within your current situation and needs.

Realistic – Consider your personal limitations to avoid burn out or negative pressure.

Time-bound – Set the goal for a specific time and set a deadline.

An example of a heart healthy S.M.A.R.T goal could be walking for 30 minutes every day for the month of January, in order to lower your blood pressure. Even though S.M.A.R.T goals are a great place to start, additional actions such as keeping a journal to record your goals, getting support from people close to you, regularly tracking your progress and rewarding successes, can increase your chances at reaching your goals.

Northern Hearts wants to support those interested in making and refining their resolutions for improving their heart health in 2023. In partnership with the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre, they will be hosting “Healthy Heart Day” on February 11th from 9:30 am to 3:00, at the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre on River Street. The event will feature informative presentations by medical professionals and include a blood pressure clinic as well as other interesting demonstrations. There are no fees to attend but registration is limited to 100 attendees. To register, contact Corinne Graham, Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre at (807) 684-3276.

For further information regarding Healthy Heart Day please visit the Northern Hearts website: or contact Lana Ryder-Methot by e-mail at

For more information on SMART Goals, please visit:

For all questions related to heart health, please visit: or follow Northern Hearts on Facebook and Instagram (@NorthernHeartsThunderBay), where a new posting occurs every Wednesday on all things heart health.

Submitted by Northern Hearts Program Coordinator, Lana Ryder-Methot.