Anyone today that has worked on, or wants to work on becoming a fitter individual so that they can live a more active lifestyle needs to be sure they are both setting attainable goals and to achieve these goals and surpass them. They need to track their activity so that they can hold themselves accountable.
Today, there is a wide range of tracking devices available at their fingertips. After all, most everyone today has a smartphone that has a multitude of apps available to them, and some of the most popular ones are health trackers. But for accuracy, most smartphone apps rely on receiving an accurate heart rate pulse, that synchs from a wearable device and then transmits that data to the app on your phone. But why have a two-step function when you can get instant results from a device that you can wear on your wrist? The wrist-based activity trackers, or heart rate monitors that can be worn on your wrist are able to give you multiple readings from your heart rate, your target zones to your VO2 and Lactate levels. One that I have come to rely on is the Garmin Forerunner 935 Multi-Sport GPS Watch
A watch of this caliber can provide you with the data you need, in order to make correct decisions on what you may need to change in your training routines and what you may want to cut back on depending on just what those levels dictate.
From the number of floors, you climbed during the day, the intensity of your workouts at the gym, to the number of Intensity Minutes your tracking, along with providing you with a Training Status, (TE)
The Training Effect score is between 1 and 5 with 5 being overreaching and 1 not doing much. You would expect to see a score above 4 for a workout, hard, long run or race but when you start seeing high numbers on recovery or easy days, you know you are doing too much. Either you are not recovered from your harder training or races or you are just running/pushing yourself too hard on these lighter days. Everyone is different but if there are too many days above 4, consistently each week can cause you some problems down the line. This alone can be worth the price of the watch as it can tell you when it’s a good idea to take a break or cut back on your routines in order to let your body have adequate recovery time.
Remember, after so many hours in use, any engine needs to be taken offline to let it cool down and give its working parts a rest and some “TLC”. Your body is no different then any engine that performs a task, again and again, you need to take care of it!
The key thing to remember is that data, like anything else, can either help you or hurt you if you’re not cognizant to just what that data means to you based on your current, physical and even emotional situations. Data gathering, especially from a device that is intended to provide you with information on just how well your doing can, for some people become an obsession.
Data seems to be everywhere in the fitness world at the moment, from wearable tech devices that are mapping your every move, to biometric body scanners that tell you your body composition limb by limb to group exercise classes in which your performance is displayed on a big screen for all to see.
There are a lot of good things about this influx of technology into our fitness lives. Humans are task driven animals, and as humans, we like having goals and knowing when we have achieved them. Then we set new goals for ourselves to work towards. It is the fact that we are accomplishing these goals that provide a sense of worth to us as humans, and that feeling of accomplishment is hard to replicate anywhere else in our lives.
However, as with most things in life, you should aim to strike a balance. It's important to remember you're a human, not just a set of statistics. Remember, these devices don’t know about that work deadline you have for this Friday, or that your two-year-old is teething, or that your client meeting went on a little longer than expected last night. Life goes on, in spite of our best intentions of sticking to any workout plan.
If you’re working with a trainer, they should be sensitive to this. If you're setting your own goals according to the AI device attached to your wrist, then remember to have some empathy towards yourself. One sub-par performance in the gym or a missed session altogether is no reason to throw in the proverbial towel.
Remember exercise is not a punitive sentence for indulgences. Your Sunday morning platter of bacon, eggs, and home-fries doesn't have to be paid for by another half hour on the treadmill. Exercise, if looked at the right way, is - or should be - fun.
In short: data is great but use it as another tool in your fitness bag, for a bit of motivation and guidance, rather than letting it rule your life!