There’s a big difference between buying a gym membership, and using it on a regular basis. Keeping an exercise journal is one tool for making your workouts more consistent and effective. Take a look at the benefits of tracking your time on the treadmill.
Benefits of Keeping an Exercise Journal
1. Increase awareness. Writing in a diary encourages mindfulness. You’ll know for sure how many times you visited the gym last week. At the same time, you’ll also be able to relax and enjoy the rest of your day once you’ve documented the necessary information.
2. Clarify goals. You could miss out on the fun of being fit if deep down you’re trying to transform yourself into Superwoman. Aiming for reasonable targets like taking 2 inches off your waistline will give you more victories to celebrate.
3. Hold yourself accountable. You’re less likely to skip your ab work if you know your diary will become lasting evidence of that fact. You’d rather do those sit ups than keep thinking about them.
4. Recover from lapses. Then again, holidays and weddings interfere with the soundest plans. Taking a long term view will show you how to bounce back from a few hectic days.
5. Collect data. Imagine running a business where you neglect to keep records about your customers or finances. Data is just as essential when you’re trying to figure out how to run a faster mile.
6. Manage medical conditions. An exercise journal may be especially useful if you’re living with a chronic condition. Lifestyle adjustments could reduce the symptoms of diabetes or arthritis.
How to Keep an Exercise Journal
1. Design your format. If you’re a techie, organize your data with a mobile app on your phone. If you prefer pen and paper, buy a journal with a pretty cover.
2. Define your scope. You may want to track just the basics or paint a more detailed picture. At a minimum, try to capture how long your workout lasted and the level of intensity.
3. Examine your feelings. Many women find it helpful to understand how emotions affect their fitness plans. It’s motivating to see how a half hour of cycling enhances your mood. On the other hand, if you leave a Cross Fit session feeling drained, it could be a sign of overtraining.
4. Add images and quotes. Pictures and inspirational sayings may provide an extra boost. Looking at your children’s faces may encourage you to pass on healthy habits. A line from a favorite song could make you feel like dancing.
5. Schedule updates. Most studies find that exercise journals have more impact if you write in them each day. Recording your performance on the spot also helps to ensure accuracy. Experiment with a system that will work for you. That could mean bringing your notebook to the gym or filling it out before bed.
6. Vary your routine. Our bodies adapt to any familiar movement so walking a mile will soon require less effort than it used to. If you want to advance, you’ll need to make things more challenging. Many experts suggest that a 10% weekly increase in weight, intensity, or distance is usually a safe guide.
7. Review your records. Use your journal to reflect on how far you’ve come. Maybe you’ve worked your way up from 5 pushups to 15 over the course of the year.
8. Consult with others. Reserve your journal for your eyes alone or share it with your health team. Your physician or personal trainer can give you more detailed recommendations when they learn more about you.
Write your workout program down on a piece of scrap paper or a custom-designed template. Either way, you’ll be more likely to reach your fitness goals when you monitor your progress with an exercise journal.