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Exercise

The Importance of Activity Tracking

Since grade school, we were taught the importance of having plenty of exercises. But as we age and take in adult responsibilities, it’s challenging to squeeze a time to workout.

Aside from reducing your sodium and alcohol consumption to manage your blood pressure, for instance, there are other lifestyle changes you can do. This is where having an exercise program could come in handy.

Luckily, there’s a simple method of staying fit. The trick is tracking how many minutes of activity you occupy each day and each week.

Once you’ve laid out what you do and where you fall short, you can figure out how you can incorporate exercise into your routine.

For example, you might already be using half-hour for walks in the park with your dog on Saturday mornings and playing an hour of tennis each Sunday. Log in on the sheet, and your cardio is done for the day.

However, you have no cardio from Monday through Friday. So, instead of driving to work, consider walking if possible. If not, you can opt to park from the far end of the parking lot or take the stairs instead of the elevator.

The key here is to have 30 minutes of manual effort, and you’re good to go.

Aside from cardio, you can also log stretching and strength-building exercises. Still, you should always check with your doctor before you start a new exercise regimen. More so if you have pre-existing health issues.

Nonetheless, regular physical activity is a proven method for reducing health risks like high blood pressure. It also allows you to reap the following benefits:

  • Retrain your heart and lungs to move blood and oxygen with less stress and strain.
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Reduce your cholesterol.
  • Stop or delay osteoporosis.
  • Lessen your weight and eliminate obesity.
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Help ease arthritis pain.

The key here is to do things slowly. No one became a triathlete overnight, anyway.

Establish small, achievable goals each week and then make gradual improvements until you reach the recommended weekly totals on your Fitness Log.

Remember: The best way to attain your goal is to find activities that you enjoy and use them to reach your weekly exercise target. That said, you should keep the following things in mind:

Moderate Activity

Moderate activity gets your heart pumping but doesn’t exaggerate it and leave you completely out of breath.

You can walk rapidly, do light aerobics, play baseball or softball, go hiking, or swim. And if you’re hanging out with friends, consider taking a bike ride instead of having coffee.

Vigorous Activity

Vigorous activities leave you sweaty and almost out of breath. You can do jump rope, run, box, weight train, race-walk, or learn karate.

Try adjusting your routine: Play a little one-on-one basketball with a friend. You’ll both be more suited for it!

Here are other ways you can sneak in some exercise:

  • Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes
  • Playing volleyball for 45-60 minutes
  • Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes
  • Playing touch football for 45 minutes
  • Gardening for 30-45 minutes
  • Walking two miles in 30 minutes
  • Wheeling self in a wheelchair for 30-40 minutes
  • Shooting a basketball for 30 minutes or play basketball for 15-20 minutes
  • Pushing a stroller 1½ miles in 30 minutes
  • Bicycling five miles in 30 minutes or for miles in 15 minutes
  • Raking leaves for 30 minutes
  • Dancing fast for 30 minutes
  • Water aerobics for 30 minutes
  • Swimming laps for 20 minutes
  • Shoveling snow for 15 minutes
  • Stair walking for 15 minutes
  • Jumping rope for 15 minutes
  • Running 1½ miles in 15 minutes

Five reasons to track your activity

1. It helps you concentrate on a clear goal

It is common knowledge that your goal should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-based

It doesn’t matter whether your goal is to lose weight or improve your fitness. What’s important is that you can track your movements by establishing SMART goals.

An example of a SMART fitness goal would be reaching 10,000 steps a day. And you can measure it by wearing a pedometer.

2. It stimulates you

Recognizing your progress and knowing that everything you do counts can be motivational.

Those flashing lights on your wrist, the complimentary alerts when you reach a new milestone, and the note that you have a specific target to reach can inspire you to achieve your goals.

3. It keeps you responsible

A fitness tracker gives you a clear idea of what you’re executing, helping you be honest with yourself, and making intelligent choices. If you’re not tracking your activity, it can easy to exaggerate or misjudge how much you’re moving throughout the day.

Metrics tell you the real narrative, and you’d want to be examining your best results at the end of the day. So, you’ll be supported to find more opportunities to be active wherever you can.

4. It helps you understand your progress

The best part of tracking your activity is the feeling of accomplishment that comes when you reach your daily goals. There’s nothing like that little dash of positive support when you know you’ve done what you set out to do – and it can be addictive.

It can also help you look at your development over the long term to see how far you’ve come, no matter where you started from.

Compare your steps to your regular averages a week or a month ago. Chances are, you’ve made excellent strides, and you should feel good about it!

5. You can do more than just track steps

Tracking your steps with a pedometer is a comprehensive, simple solution. But some of the benefits of using a more advanced fitness tracker are the other features it offers you.

For example, the Fitbit Flex shows you how many “active minutes” you have completed (with 30 minutes being the default target.) It also allows you to measure your sleep, giving you an exciting picture of how restful your nights are.

Plus, you can track things like your food, weight, and hydration, helping to produce a fuller image of your overall health.

Can it be as simple as counting steps?

Before we jump into how we should be tracking our activity, we need to level-set. What does “physical activity” mean specifically?

Moderate physical activity refers to any movement you make. Then, there’s exercise, a subcategory of physical activity that’s more powerful or strenuous. Both have benefits, and it’s essential to be sure you’re getting loads of each.

Our bodies aren’t meant to sit all day, but — through no guilt of our own, many of our everyday routines are sitting-centric.

We sit in our cars, we sit at our desks, we sit on the couch after a long day at work. All this sitting can total up to a lot of downtimes where we’re just flat-out inactive.

When you’re sitting all day, your body tenses up in ways that it shouldn’t. Standing up and moving around helps reduce this tension and gets your blood flowing. It is recommended to devote at least 10 minutes throughout the day to be physically active. This can include stretching, marching in place, or taking a lap around your office or home.

These days, every activity tracker has its own set of metrics and goals to help support you sit less and move more. When it comes to tracking your general activity level, you’d still opt for simplifying things by focusing on your step count. If you notice your way behind on steps, it’s the motivation for you to get up and walk around.

The aim is to be moving around throughout the day, and taking steps every hour is a great way to achieve that.

While you probably don’t require 10,000 steps a day, choosing a step goal that’s practical for you ensures that you’re being active enough.

However, the downside of tracking your steps is that it’s not always the best method to get some exercise.

Where did 10,000 steps come from?

When wristband fitness trackers first became popular, those who wore them became influenced by the 10,000-step goal. It was a challenging goal! And hitting it sometimes felt like the most significant achievement of the day.

But where did the 10,000-step goal come from?

It sets out this magic number as the result of a Japanese study dating back to 1965 — and it’s been attached with us ever since (well, sort of). This study looked at how physical activity (or inactivity in this case) compared to health in older women.

The study discovered that many older women were relatively sedentary (averaging only 2,500 steps per day). On the other hand, taking closer to 5,000 steps per day decreased a woman’s risk of death by almost half. This risk was further lessened by stepping even more — beyond 5,000 steps but leveling around 7,500.

So how did we end up with a 10,000-step goal instead of what sounds like should’ve been a 7,500 one? The thought is that 10,000 steps are just easier to remember, making for more uncomplicated information to the market.

What are the best ways to track your progress?

Calendar

This is the most basic way of tracking your workout activity. This type of tracking enables you to plan out the days on which you will complete your workouts.

Thanks to the latest smartphones, you can have a calendar with you at all times.

Electronic calendars can collect more information about your workouts. Plus, there are reminders that you could set to inform you about your upcoming workout schedules.

If you prefer an old-school strategy, you can fix a calendar on a wall and track your activities with a pen.

This is the simplest way of tracking your workout progress. However, it does not provide a lot of space for details, except for your schedule and the number of repetitions you can do.

Online websites

There are lots of great online tools that can help you track your workout journey. One excellent example is bodybuilding.com.

Apart from tracking, the website allows a big community of people to share the same interests as yours. This is a perfect way to obtain new information about different exercises and workout routines.

Another website that offers a bunch of tracking details is thesquattingrack.com. On this site, you have to include a whole set of data about your current workout progress. From there, you can track your records, like weight lifting and squatting. You can even track your body measures and nutrition plan.

Based on all this data, a graph is projected to give you a summary of your progress curve. Since all the information is straightforward, you can easily see what improvements would make your workouts more efficient.

Workout gadgets

Workout gadgets can be groundbreaking, as they offer data about a person’s physical activity throughout the day.

There is a type of trackers out there, and it all comes down to your personal preference. These are some of the several popular fitness gadgets in the world that are used by millions of people:

  • Fitbit Blaze is an excellent choice for people who want to wear a tracker that is also fashionable. This Fitbit product serves its goal perfectly, just like the majority of their other gadgets.
  • Garmin Vivosmart HR gives a variety of different notifications for you throughout the day. The optical technology behind this useful gadget is fit for specific measurements of your heart rate. It is an excellent device for those who want to stay in the target HR values to maximize calorie expenditure during the workout.
  • Jawbone UP2 is a device with a considerably uncomplicated design. It tracks all of your activity throughout the day, and the software that it comes with is relatively simple to use. However, if you fancy having a screen on your tracker, this is probably not the best option for you. Keep in mind that this device is much cheaper than the competition despite submitting accurate information.
  • Misfit Shine 2 is a beautifully designed tracker with an incredibly precise data tracking feature. If you want a device that gives top-notch data, this is probably the one you should go for.

These are just some of the trackers that are available on the market today. The thing with wearable technology is that it continually checks your body’s state even when you are asleep.

The goal of these devices is to provide data about your physical activities and eating habits so that you can develop a wholesome lifestyle.

Smartphones

If you don’t fancy carrying a lot of different gadgets, you can turn your smartphone into a great activity tracker. These devices are equipped with several sensors that can be used to track your daily activity levels.

The essential part of using your smartphone as a fitness tracker is picking the right software for your device. If you do your research well, you’ll be able to get the best solutions on websites like CrowdReviews.com.

With the correct application on your phone, you can receive almost all of the details the above mentioned trackers have to offer. You can track your heart rate throughout the workouts as well as the calories burned and distance covered. The majority of tracking apps can also show you graphs of your journey.

Most of the apps are free, but if you want excellent options unlocked, you may need to invest a little bit of money – approximately around $2-5.

If you are content with basic information about your day, Google Fit is a great way to track your progress. Other big companies, such as LG and Samsung, extend their fitness trackers integrated with Google Fit.

With so many choices, it comes down to personal preference. No matter what approach you choose, the most significant thing is that you keep your tracker with you at all times.

Tracking workouts and progress can be very motivating. It will just depend on how much time you are willing to commit to it. Once you get the hang of it, you can quickly make plans for your next routine.

Consult your physician before you start your exercise plan to avoid injury, and work your way up to a more intense activity level.

If your heart isn’t pumping quick enough, you’re missing the opportunity to develop your cardiovascular health. First, determine your maximum heart rate and use that number to determine your target heart rate.

  • Deduct your age from 220 to determine your maximum heart rate. If you are 40, for instance, your maximum heart rate is 180.
  • Multiply this number by 70 percent (.70) to get your objective heart rate. 180 X 70 percent is 126.
  • Try to keep your target heart rate for about 20 minutes of your workout.
  • Don’t go beyond your maximum heart rate.

Several machines in the gym, such as the treadmill, can electronically monitor your heart rate. When you’re doing other exercises, you can stop and take your pulse for six seconds and multiply it by ten.

Don’t worry if you aren’t reaching your objective heart rate when you first begin a daily exercise routine. If you’ve been inactive for a long time, getting up to just 60 percent of your target heart rate is still helpful.