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Why you need an exercise journal and how to do it!

When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, a lot of people are stuck as soon as they start.  There’s a big difference between setting your goal and actually working on it consistently every day.

Keeping an exercise journal is a great tool for holding yourself accountable and to effectively monitor your progress over time. Take a look at the benefits of tracking your time in the gym.

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 with a sense of accomplishment, once you’ve documented your workout.
  2. Clarify goals. Set clear, specific goals and break them down into their steps or components. Understanding the micro parts of a larger goal can make it seem more manageable, and you can celebrate the milestones along the way which is a positive reinforcement for your new habit.
  3. Hold yourself accountable. You’re less likely to skip your ab work if you know your journal will become lasting evidence of that fact. You’d rather do those sit ups than keep thinking about them or look back at an empty workout log.
  4. Recover from lapses. The best laid plans can come unstuck, so using an exercise journal allows to pick up where you left off, and get started again. 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 kilometer or go heavier on your squat. Your exercise journal can help identify patterns or plateaus you can use to improve your performance.
  6. Manage medical conditions. An exercise journal may be especially useful if you’re living with a chronic condition. Lifestyle adjustments could reduce your symptoms and your journal would be a great way to track any of those changes to discuss with your primary healthcare team.

How to Keep an Exercise Journal

  1. Design your format. Whether you’re a techie or a gadget newbie, you can organise your data with a mobile app such as the Crush Fit app. You can download this for free and begin setting yourself goals or tracking your workouts. If you prefer pen and paper, there are an array of journals to choose from – find one that inspires you.
  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. Be mindful of how you feel. Many people find it helpful to understand how emotions affect their fitness plans. It’s motivating to see how a half hour of cardio enhances your mood, or if you respond better to this in the morning or the afternoon. On the other hand, if you leave a session feeling drained, that could also be a trend to watch out for.
  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 favourite 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 kilometre 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 – this will help you also remember why you started.
  8. Consult with others. Reserve your journal for your eyes alone or share it with your health team. Your doctor 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.

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