The Impact of Tracking

The Impact of Tracking

People have been tracking exercise and workouts for a very long time. For instance, the first creation of a pedometer (or a “step counter”) is estimated to have occurred in the 1700’s. And while you have most likely transitioned to a trendier, sleeker, sophisticated, and more versatile smart watch, app, or other technology informed device, the underlining essence of tracking and why it has such an influential impact on our exercise behaviour remains the same.

When considering tracking, we are referring to the concept of monitoring and recording our exercise behaviours and actions. For example, you may wear a smart watch, go for a paper and pencil approach, or even use Boxx’s PunchPods to record your workouts (the smart choice, if we say so ourselves).

With all of these tracking methods, you may notice that they’re focused on behaviours rather than outcomes. And this is an important distinguishing feature. When looking at the highest-level research regarding what techniques help healthy adults to increase their activity levels, it is “self-monitoring of behaviour” (or “tracking of behaviour”) that comes in at the number one spot.

So why is tracking our exercise behaviours so influential?

Tracking our exercise helps us to see where we are currently at in our exercise journey, to then make decisions regarding our next step. One way to understand how this works is to liken this process to the thermostat within your house. You may set a goal temperature, and the thermostat will sense out the current temperature and start working to change the temperature in the air towards the goal, working its way incrementally Celsius-by-Celsius. The thermostat will then monitor the air temperature again to see whether the goal temperature has been reached, whether a little more action is needed to reach the goal, or in some instances if the goal temperature has been surpassed and it needs to start working in a slightly different direction back towards the goal. Overall it is the tracking of the temperature that creates the feedback that then facilitates a change in actions.

Translating this to your exercise, you may set an exercise related goal. You may carry out the exercise behaviours that promote you towards achieving that goal. But it is through tracking where you can monitor if your actions are taking you in the desired direction.

For example, your goal may be cardiovascular fitness. Across a week of Boxx sessions, you may use your PunchPods to record your “punches per minute” and take an average. You may then create a goal of increasing your average punch per minute rate by 6 punches. By using your PunchPods, you can continue to track your punches per minute, and by reviewing this data you can then consider what behaviours are pushing you towards reaching your goal and which aren’t.

This also considers the importance of tracking to aid us in creating a healthy relationship with exercise. For example, over a couple of weeks of tracking you may notice aiming for 6 extra punches per minute is too ambitious. Or you may feel while you can do these extra punches, your recovery from sessions is not as good. This information empowers you to then make choices regarding how to continue in a way that supports your body and mind.

Tracking can also aid the decisions you make when you can’t get feedback from others. By using PunchPods at home you can track your exercise actions live and receive timely feedback that can let you know whether you need to increase your effort or back off slightly during the workout.

 

In our next Blog, we will delve deeper into how to create a healthy approach with exercise and tracking. For now though, you may like to consider if you already track or not. If you do, you may like to think about how the metrics you collect relate to your goals or how these metrics aid your exercise. If you don’t, you may like to consider if tracking is for you and what option os best for you.

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