The hard part about exercise is figuring out how to track it. Shall we be old fashioned and keep a journal? Or get a snazzy new gadget? I suppose we all have our favorites. Some of us put in our blog, keeping ourselves honest!
I still need to track it so I know what I did, when, and for how long; so I can write about it. I definitely don’t remember for more than a day. I have two methods: I have an app on my phone that tracks each session, and I do keep an old-fashioned journal too.
But how does one decide? My journal is great because not only does it show in a weekly format what I did, but gives me a place to write down how I felt about it and whether I tried anything new in the session. My app is wonderful because I get a digital readout of how long and what I did. It also sends me a monthly reckoning of calories burned, minutes exercised and miles run–if its not what I wanted to achieve, I can always strive harder the next month.
That works for me. What will work for you? There are literally thousands of apps, and many gadgets that hook up to a computer program to track your health; not only your exercise but sleep and eating patterns.
I admit, I lucked out with my app. I use Endomondo, which I love because A) it’s simplicity and B) the amount of exercises it lists. It actually has riding (a horse) in it. It has all my exercises, plus many more. All I could find that it is missing is that it has no gardening activity (yes, trust me, cleaning out leaves is a workout). It has a lot of training programs and challenges too, and makes a great way to connect with others.
And the Bands! I do have a simple pedometer/watch that the hospital gives all its employees, and it connects to a website where I can track o’ so much, and connect with other hospital employees. I have become addicted to counting my steps and seeing how many I can get in a day. But does not even compare to a Fitbit, or Apple Watch or Jawbone, or one of the many more. For a great comparison of wearable trackers, check out this Self article. Your head will spin with all the choices out there.
But there is one important thing to keep in mind with an app, journal, or band: you must utilize it. Getting the coolest tech with the neatest website doesn’t mean you will get up and use it. There are four prime things to look for when you are picking out a band:
1. The wearer must have the desire and motivation to want the wearable and able to afford it.
2. The wearer must be able to wear it and recharge it easily.
3. The device must be accurate at tracking the data it’s targeting.
4. Data needs to be presented in a meaningful, user-friendly way that also motivates further action.*
What do those mean? Well, you probably need to plug it in every night when you plug your phone in. Pick out a reasonable band, taking into account not only the up-front cost but also whether there is a monthly cost to have it connected. Same thing with an app, my Endomondo is free. However, there is a $5 monthly upgrade, but I decided that I didn’t use enough of those features to make it worth it. I did try it, which I suggest everyone try. But don’t be afraid to get rid of it if you are not utilizing all the features.
You also need to be able to understand what it says and how to set it up. Small buttons and tiny readouts are not for everyone. Plus what it tells you must be usable to you. I don’t track food, so I could care less about calories burned. But to some people that would be a must. I do care about time and distance, so it is important that my tracker have accurate clock and GPS.
In the end, take your time and think about what is important to you when you exercise. Think about what kind of information you want to track–time, sleep, weight–and pick out a program/band that will do that for you. And then USE it 😛