There are many trends in health and fitness, but one that’s lasted the test of time is tracking your data. What has changed, however, is the way it’s done. As with the calendar and to-do lists, we’ve gone from the era of pen and paper to using technology to track our day-to-day progress.
One consumer study revealed that 1-in-3 people track their health and fitness data and that’s not just in the U.S. That’s a third of people worldwide. Though we may have different languages and cultures, the reasons why and methods used to track our data are the same. It’s what we do with that data that can elevate us from good to great.
WHY TRACK YOUR DATA?
Most runners choose to track data to keep an eye on progress and make sure they are staying accountable during training. Those reasons alone are enough of a benefit to the process; it is the basis for keeping a training log. However, as noted above, it is what you do with that data that is important. Tracking it is one thing, but making sure you review it and learn from it is another.
“Tracking it is one thing, but making sure you review it and learn from it is another.”
The Pew Research Center shared that 60% of adults track their weight, diet or exercise routine. From there, they found that those also tracking other health indicators such as blood pressure or sleep patterns actually began to approach their health differently.
Tracking your data not only lets you see your athletic development, but it can also make you healthier overall. Because most apps and wearables now track things other than just distance and pace, such as heart rate, sleep and weight, we now have a greater overall sense of our health than ever before. As we’ve learned, being fit and being healthy are two completely different things, and now with all of this data constantly at our fingertips, we can make sure the two are aligned when it comes to our approach and results.
DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN
There is a downside to how shareable our data has become, however, and it all lies in the power of comparison. For example, a study by the Royal Society for Public Health found that in teens and young adults, social media is playing a huge role in mental health. While Instagram was found to negatively affect their well-being the most, it is a testament to the power of the comparison trap.
Though using social apps that connect you with your friends and family so you can all view each other’s data and hold one another accountable is a great motivational tool, it is important to recognize that not every athlete is the same. You may not be at the same level as your brother, but you may be way ahead in terms of weekly mileage compared to your best friend. As long as you can keep that in mind when competing in challenges, you can keep yourself from pushing too hard or becoming injured.
CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS
The good news is there is no right or wrong way to track your fitness data. There are so many options now it may seem confusing, but the only way you’ll know is to test a few different methods until you find one that works for you.
Besides the retro choice of pen and paper, one of the simplest ways to track your data is through an app. Apps such as MapMyRun are built to use your phone’s GPS in order to track stats like your route, pace and mileage. With both free and premium options, you can choose which features you actually need — for example, with an upgrade you can get live-tracking on MapMyRun so your friends and loved ones can pinpoint your exact location as you run — and all of your data is stored in one place for easy review later.
As apps were developed, fitness trackers were made to record all of this data from the comfort of your wrist, eliminating the need to have your phone at all times. This also brought the ability to track additional metrics, such as sleep. Fitness trackers even have the capability to provide reminders throughout the day to move, which is huge, especially considering too much sitting can cause extreme health risks, such as cardiovascular issues. Not only does this mean you can track your workouts, but you can keep an eye on your activity and sleep around-the-clock to improve your overall health and amount of physical activity.
Companies are continuing with advancements, such as the Under Armour Gemini 3 RE, which actually puts workout tracking directly into your shoe. For those who often forget to start their workout on their app, the shoe can do that for you as soon as you start running, making it even easier to track your workouts. Even better? There is no charging required and the battery will last as long as your shoe does.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT