Today I'm thrilled to welcome a very special guest blogger to Real Food Whole Life, Dr. Andrew Downs. Andrew is a professor and clinical psychologist who studies human health, fitness, and wellbeing. Oh, and he's also my husband! In addition to his professional interest in exercise and wellness he's a committed runner, hiker, and barre3 enthusiast (yes, he takes studio class a couple times per week--often without me! We'll have to write a post about that another day). Since he spends a good deal of time researching health and physical activity I asked him to come on RFWL today to share some research-based tips for increasing physical activity in our daily lives. Here's Andrew in his own words:
We all know that exercise is good for us and that people who are physically active are less likely to suffer all sorts of physical health problems. On top of that, exercise has also proven to be an effective way to boost mood, decrease stress, improve brain functioning, and even treat depression. Even though we know it’s good for us, most people don’t get nearly enough exercise. Work, family, chores, socializing, and life in general often eats into the time and energy we have to devote to physical activity. Sound familiar? The good news is that researchers (including me) have identified several simple key strategies that can help us be more active. In today’s post I want to focus on one of those key strategies – tracking your workouts – and share some research-based tips for boosting your physical activity to get fitter, healthier, and more active.
10 Reasons TrackinG Your Workouts Matters
1. Tracking Works. Countless research studies have shown that by simply keeping track of how much you do something you will do more of it. Psychologists call this phenomenon “reactivity," but it's really just a simple concept that can make a big difference in your daily workout routine. Keep track and you'll do more.
2. Set Goals and Keep Track. Another proven way to increase physical activity? Set goals related to your fitness tracking. Daily goals are great so think minutes per day or number of steps per day for a simple start. Then think about goals for the week and go from there.
3. Tracking Leads to Scheduling. If you are tracking your physical activity you’re more likely to schedule time to make the activity a priority. People who plan and schedule workouts are much more likely follow through when other demands and fatigue threaten to sap motivation.
4. Tracking Breeds Consistency. We know consistency is the key to long-term success when it comes to exercise; yet many people jump into a new routine full speed ahead only to gradually taper off over time. By tracking your physical activity you’ll know when you are tapering and then use that information to motivate and pick things back up.
5. It Provides a Reality Check. When it comes to moving all day, most people think they are more physically active than they actually are (97% of people in a recent study). Tracking your physical activity will give you a much better picture of how active you really are, which may motivate you to amp things up to the next level.
6. Tracking Allows for Friendly Competition and Shared Success. Physical activity trackers often include features that allow you to share activity levels with friends, family, or other members of the community. That social support (or friendly peer pressure) can be a very strong motivator to be more active.
7. It Provides Positive Reinforcement. Looking back and seeing just how much you’ve done over the past week, month, or year can be very satisfying. Having a tangible record of your efforts can provide reinforcement to keep going.
8. Tracking Helps You Discover Strengths and Preferences. If you track your physical activity long enough you will start to notice patterns. For example: What types of activity do you tend to do more of, less of? Does it change with the season? Does your body feel better or worse depending on how much you do of each activity? Knowing this information will help you increase your level of physical activity and stay consistent over time.
9. It Will Help You Improve. Whether your goal is to be faster, stronger, more flexible, or more balanced, tracking will help your progress by keeping the focus on what you’ve done, where you are, and where you want to be.
10. Tracking Helps You Build Lifelong Healthy Habits. Habits take a very long time to develop. Tracking your physical activity over time will eventually turn being physically active into a habit for you – something that you do every or almost every day that doesn’t require any extra effort or motivation. It will simply be something you do - like showering or eating – an ingrained part of your life that you couldn’t imagine not doing.
Do you track your workouts? What strategies work best?
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