One of the greatest rewards for an active lifestyle is seeing improvement. How can you monitor and evaluate your progress?
Measure Your Physical Activity
The first goal for your physical activity is to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (or take at least 8,500 steps) daily.
Fitness365 Parents running for staying fitKeeping a log or wearing a pedometer to determine if you have accomplished this basic health goal. Keeping track of your activity is a great way to monitor these levels of activity.
Another way to evaluate your physical activity program is to actually see and feel the difference an active lifestyle makes. You will be able to feel your aerobic improvements when you do a typical activity (like going up stairs) and it seems easier. In addition, you will experience more energy in your daily routine. You’ll have more vitality to enjoy your family and more vigor to get a task accomplished. Just retake the one-mile walk test, or a graded exercise test in a fitness center, to see your improvements.
You won’t see changes in body composition on your bathroom scale.
Muscle weighs more than fat. What you will notice is your clothes are more comfortable, they “hang” well, and you have more energy. You can also measure your waist girth and determine your new BMI. In addition, you can get your percent of body fat estimated in a fitness center.
Changes in flexibility will be obvious as you find it easier to do routine tasks (such as reaching for items) and you will find that you have a larger range of motion. You can be more spontaneous in your movements and not so stiff in the morning.
As you improve your muscular strength and endurance, everyday tasks become easier. It won’t be an issue to carry the groceries or run to catch the phone.
Your ability to continue to use your muscles with less fatigue shows improvement in this area. You’ll be able to keep up with your kids. You will also see that you can use more resistance in your strength training and still do the same number of reps.
Perhaps most important, you should “feel good” after you exercise, sleep better, and have extra strength and energy to do those things that enrich your life. You may also be less depressed and find it easier to cope with some stressors as a result of your active life. Many people who are fit and maintain a healthy weight have reduced risk of disease and get sick less often.
Stay Active for Your Lifespan
The many benefits of an active lifestyle can be lost with a return to sedentary living. Thus, it is important to find activities that are enjoyable at all ages.
What you enjoy at age 10, you may not enjoy at 20. And again, in midlife you may like to play tennis, while as you get older walking may make you feel good. It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters that you do it. Be a role model for children, youth, and older adults, as you help them see how important regular activity is to you, and plan activities to keep you active.
Here’s to increased activity, improved fitness, and enhanced health!