Everyone likes to be able to see progress throughout their fitness journey. With wearable technology offering so many options, many find the built-in metrics of their Apple Watch, Android apps, or Fitbit enough to keep them motivated.
Others like to see the differences in their daily activities. They notice more muscle definition, less pain from an old injury, or higher energy throughout the day. We must note that we recommend talking to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
The best way to track your progress is to pay attention to the measurements and metrics that reflect your specific goals. For instance, the number of steps you're taking in a day may not matter as much if your goal is to strengthen your upper body. Similarly, you might need to closely monitor your heart rate and distance run in a week. In this case, you don’t really need to know the exact number of calories you burned on your last jog.
It’s also important to take into account how these new technologies work and to make sure you’re getting an accurate reflection of your progress. Here are five ways to track your fitness journey in a way that suits your needs.
#1: Double-check your smart device
We all love to tap through the pages on our smartwatches to see the numbers we’ve racked up during the day. All of this information can be helpful, but your device might not be giving you an accurate picture.
Shaking or repeated movement of the wrist can be incorrectly recorded as steps taken. The heart rate monitor can also be affected by movement, or something stuck to the light sensor. You should make sure the sensor is clean, and that you aren’t moving while you take the reading. You also can double-check the measurements manually. Taking your pulse is fairly simple and only takes a moment.
The Mayo Clinic provides these instructions to get your resting heart rate:
- With your palm up, look at the area between your wrist bone and the tendon on the thumb side of your wrist. Your radial pulse can be taken on either wrist.
- Use the tip of the index and third fingers of your other hand to feel the pulse in your radial artery between your wrist bone and the tendon on the thumb side of your wrist.
- Apply just enough pressure so you can feel each beat. Do not push too hard or you will obstruct the blood flow.
- Watch the second hand on your watch or a clock as you count how many times you feel your pulse.
- Record your pulse rate.
It’s best to take the full 60 seconds to count your pulse. Try to do it at the same time every day in a calm and quiet spot.
#2: There’s more than one way to measure distance
If you’re trying to get more distance out of your walks or runs, use the measurement between two locations instead of the steps taken. For instance: from your door to the end of the driveway, or from work to the coffee shop. You can use apps such as Google Maps or Waze to see what the actual distance between locations is.
#3: Progress is gradual, not just an end result
It’s OK to put things into the context of your workout. Making a list of things that have become easier since starting your routine is another way to assess how far you’ve come. Are your knees hurting less? Can you make it up the stairs without becoming winded? These are helpful metrics that let you know things are going well.
#4: Goals can be broken down into steps
Create checkpoints on the way towards your goals. You may want to be able to do ten full pushups, but before accomplishing this, you’ll start by doing wall push-ups, then push-ups on your knees. The steps in between are progress too!
#5: Motivation matters
There is nothing wrong with using popular fitness tracking apps or smart devices to see your progress. In fact, Babylon can sync with many of the most popular devices. Just remember that many of these readings vary in accuracy. Anything that helps you feel motivated towards improvement is a good tool. And if you are seeing any numbers that are concerning you or are feeling unwell during exercise, make sure you seek medical advice.
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- Skjong, Roberts, “The Best Fitness Trackers”. New York Times:Wire Cutter, accessed 1 September 2022
- Julie Penfold, “How to track workouts-with and without tech”. Tech Radar, accessed 1 September 2022
- “Could a Fitness Tracker Boost Your Heart Health?”. John Hopkins Medicine, accessed 1 September 2022
- Julie Corliss, “Do Fitness Trackers Really Help People Move More?”. Harvard Health Publisher, accessed 1 September 2022