ARTICLE - SCOTT FALCONER - Director, and Exercise Coach
At the Exercise Studio, we encourage our members to think about the positive physiological benefits of exercise (‘the feel good factor’) as a motivator for staying active. In saying that, we understand, also, that for some people tracking and monitoring their activities can be equally important.
Planning and keeping a record of your exercise sessions is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination. However, in 2019, a longitudinal study showed that closely tracking your fitness over a 12 week period can be a good investment not just for those 12 weeks, but also over the next few years. It may even lead to long term positive lifestyle changes.
Self monitoring, goal setting and using a fitness tracker (for example a watch or phone) to measure your daily energy expenditure, calories burnt, step count and quality of sleep, plus more, can provide the missing motivation that you are searching for.
Technology is constantly improving, and the quality of software installed on watches and phones these days is mind-boggling. Also, there are now more manufacturers than ever in the market offering a wide range of options that makes tracking watches and devices more affordable.
The study in PLOS Medicine Journal reinforces the benefits of tracking, even if for only a short period of time. The study tracked the exercise minutes of over 1,000 participants age 45 to 75—most of whom at the start of the study were overweight or obese. Their typical exercise beforehand was around 90 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
Half of the participants were given pedometers to track their exercise for 12 weeks. The other half went about their activity as usual.
After four years, researchers followed up with all of the participants to see how much they were exercising and how likely they were to have developed a range of health conditions, like heart attack or stroke or bone fracture.
The researchers discovered that not only had the pedometer users kept up their exercise habits long term, but they actually increased their weekly exercise by 30 minutes. On the other hand, researchers found that those who did not use a pedometer during those initial 12 weeks decreased their exercise over time.
So, for some people it seems having information at your fingertips, understanding it, and being able to compare and record against previous stats can be very powerful. So, if you are struggling to stay on track, you may want to consider using a device to measure your progress and keep yourself accountable - it may give you some healthy habits for years to come.
Of course, putting numbers aside, acknowledging how great you feel after exercise should always be one of the biggest motivators for getting a bit of a sweat up. The positive mental health benefits obtained following exercise are instant and beautiful.
To learn more about the PLOS study - click on the link
Scott Falconer is an owner of The Exercise Studio in Silverstream and provides personal training for clients. You can read more about him HERE, or contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0211755946.
The views and opinions expressed in this article belong to the author Natasha Town-Warner, and do not necessarily represent those of The Weights Room Limited trading as the Exercise Studio, it's staff or other contractors, or D & S Falconer.