Fitness success stories are usually defined by some form of measured improvement. Whether it’s a goal weight...slimmer measurements…or increased athletic performance…it’s usually a quantity that we can measure.
Our society is obsessed with metrics, and it seems that everything we do is measured, evaluated, compared to a benchmark, and graded. But when it comes to our fitness routine, there are some overlooked measurements that can help us track and attain our goals.
The benefits of healthy eating and exercise aren’t always immediately apparent…and this can frustrate us when we want to see immediate results from our hard work.
We can’t see all of these benefits in the mirror, but we can measure many of them! Like a car, many of our assets are underneath the hood.
When we exercise, we not only lose weight but we strengthen our heart, lungs, circulatory system and most everything in-between.
Below is a list of methods that you can use to see an improvement of your health and fitness routine…from your body weight to the under-the-hood measurements:
- Measured Improvement #1: Body Weight
The bathroom scale seems to be society’s universal gauge of health & fitness. Body weight can be an effective measurement, but it may not always paint the complete picture. Our body weight will fluctuate with our eating, hydration and waste processes. It’s also important that we have a set of guidelines to make sure that our goal weight falls in a healthy range for our height. This range is usually defined by a Body Mass Index of 18.5 – 24.9….which you can calculate using a BMI calculator. Weight is a good measure to gauge over time but it’s even more useful when combined with other information….
- Measure Improvement #2: Body Fat Percentage
Obesity, which is defined as over 30% body fat, is becoming an epidemic in modern society. While body fat is a necessary element for survival, it seems that most of us have too much of it. So how do we measure body fat? There are essentially 3 ways:
Hydrostatic Test: Very accurate – most expensive
Calipers: Accurate if done correctly
Circumference Method: Accurate, convenient, and free!
Check out these body fat tables to learn more about the circumference method and how to it to your routine.
- Measured Improvement #3: Resting Heart Rate
Measuring your resting heart rate is a good indicator for the strength of your most important muscle – your heart. With exercise, your heart gets stronger and can do more work with less beats…resulting in a lower resting heart rate. The best time to take your resting heart rate is in the morning before you jump out of bed. Use your forefinger and take your pulse on your wrist, upper neck, or temple. Count the beats in a 30-second period and multiply this by 2 for your resting heart rate. As your heart gets stronger with your exercise routine, you should notice a decrease in your resting heart rate. The FitBit Surge with the wrist HR monitor has made is very easy to now monitor resting HR. See the resting heart rate page for more information.
- Measured Improvement #4: Cholesterol Levels
As you reduce body fat, increase aerobic activity, and cut down on fatty foods, you’ll be able to measure another important benefit of your healthy lifestyle…lower cholesterol levels. This will also help you keep your annual doctor’s visits, as it feels great to watch your total cholesterol number come down knowing that you’re cleaning your pipes!
- Measured Improvement #5: Performance
If you’re a walker or jogger, you can measure the improvement in your times. Keep a workout log and record your workouts and races. You’ll enjoy looking back on those entries later when you meet your current goals and set new goals. A workout log is a confidence builder and ledger of your hard work. Start measuring your exercise with a workout log…it may just motivate you to keep going for fear of leaving too many blank entries ;-)!
Measured improvements motivate us and give us confidence. When we see our own progress, we start to believe in ourselves and our ability to accomplish our goals. It’s when these accomplishments are quantified that they become real in our minds and less subjective. Good luck with your fitness routine…now get out there and start measuring your progress!
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