Friday, July 1, 2011

Fitness Friday- Keeping track...

A Fitness Friday post has been long overdue! Hope everyone is doing well with "Making that Change" in their life and incorporating "Healthy Measures"  For this weeks post, the topic I wanted to discuss is being active and also tracking progress. With less than a month to until the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival, I have heard many friends state it is time to get serious with their workout regimen and eating habits. In my opinion, an important part of starting a workout regimen, is having a plan and keeping a track of progress. 

An analogy I would like to propose relates to cooking. I myself am not the best of cooks, as such this is an area in my life that I am working on. Something I find beneficial, as do many others, is the use of a recipe. At the grocery store a variety of ingredients and appliances are available for purchase; however by writing down the recipe it helps to prevent me from forgetting which ingredients I need to buy.  In the event I am unable to find or unfamiliar with the ingredient or appliance I am looking for, I can ask one of the staff for help or assistance. In relation to actually cooking the meal, the recipe is useful because it keeps me on track with how much, how long, and overall what exactly I should do to prepare the meal. In the end, with any new recipe, I may find that the directions may be more difficult than anticipated or that the results were not quite the same as those pictured in the magazine.  However with time, practice and effort, I eventually get the results I have wanted. Additionally, once I have mastered the recipe I could start to incorporate variations (such as alternative spices or seasoning), to switch it up a bit.

Soooooo what does that have to do with exercising???  Well, often when a person is ready to start a workout regimen, he or she might feel compelled to head down to the gym (analogous to the grocery store in my example). Once at the gym, various equipment (analogous to ingredients) are available to achieve the desired results. However, if the person is unfamiliar with how to use the equipment, or does not ask for help, this could potentially result in dissatisfaction with the results or the person potentially injuring himself/herself (analogous to results that were not hoped for). Furthermore, if the person did not keep track of what they were doing in the gym, it will be difficult to pinpoint what exactly contributed to the observed results. As such, similar to the use of a recipe, I would suggest the incorporation of a workout plan is beneficial.

Benefits of writing down a plan:
  • Articulating a plan verbally is great, however writing down the plan helps it become more concrete and provides the opportunity for one to refer back to it
  • Establishing a plan incorporates a form of accountability.  As such the individual may be more inclined to adhere to the schedule
    • Example: "Sorry can't make it to the mall tonight. I have to go to my weekly Tuesday evening Socacize class"
  • Allows one to track individual progress overtime towards goals.
    •  This will allow for comparison of progress from the onset of the regimen to the present time. Tracking could include improvement in duration of activity performed,  number of repetitions, cardiovascular improvement, or even noting any set backs.
Overall, keeping/ writing a workout log is one way to help an individual  track their progress towards their physical activity and fitness goals.  Here is an example of a log:

Though this post focused on physical activity from a gym perspective, Toronto Public Health has proposed several steps one can take to being active some of which included: starting small, setting realistic goals, doing something you enjoy and remembering every effort counts. = )

Happy Friday!

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