Tracking Your Walking Fitness Progress
Keeping a record of your fitness walking goals, efforts, and results is important. In fact, other than actually following through on your walking plans it may be the most important step you can take.
Tracking your progress helps you in many ways. First, it helps you identify your goals and create a plan to achieve them. It holds you accountable to those goals. If you have plans to walk today and you don’t follow through, then a journal requires you to document your failure. It’s no fun to see a long list of failures, and that simple fact can help you get out the door to walk.
However, perhaps more importantly, a tracking system can help you identify why you’re struggling, which puts you in the driver’s seat. If you realize that for the past four days you haven’t walked then you can ask yourself why and then make changes that support your success.
Another way that tracking is motivating is because you’ll be able to see progress. If you record 5,000 steps every day last week and 6,000 steps every day this week then you know that 7,000 steps next week is possible. There are several different ways that you can approach tracking.
There is no right or wrong way. The best tracking system is the system that you find easy to use and the system that supports you to succeed.
Pedometers and Walking Activity Trackers
The world of pedometers has exploded as new technology has made them more accurate and more useful. Yes, you can find the traditional clip on your shoe pedometer. They work well and provide an accurate step count.
However, if you like more information you might consider some of the new wearable fitness devices like the FitBit. These devices clip onto your clothing or easily fit into a pocket or around your wrist. They track not only your steps but also your calories burned, as well as exercise intensity.
Many devices also provide an online service that allows you to enter the foods you eat so you can record caloric intake as well. And if you struggle with insomnia then you might enjoy the sleep monitoring feature found on some devices.
The primary benefit of a tracking device is that it’s super easy to use. There’s little you have to do other than wear the device and occasionally sync it with your computer. You’ll want to review the information so that you can see whether you’re meeting your goals, but the onscreen display can tell you how far you are from your daily goals as well.
The downside is that some of the more advanced devices can be expensive and some require monthly memberships to use their online features.
If you don’t like the idea of wearing a device, you may find that a journal keeping habit may be more to your liking. The benefit of a journal is that you can enter more information than basic data.
For example, if you don’t meet your goal on a particular day you can add notes to your journal about why you didn’t meet that goal. This facilitates problem solving and helps you create an individualized walking program that truly supports you and your needs.
The downside is that it requires a bit more effort from you. You do have to follow through and enter your data every single day. There are a few different journal keeping approaches. You can pull out a spiral notebook and a pen and simply track your data every day. You can also create a spreadsheet on your computer. This is an organized way to see all of your data at a glance and if you’re on your computer throughout the day, it can be an easy process.
If you have a smartphone and like to use applications then you might consider one of the many sports journal keeping apps. They often come with a free online membership as well. For example, FitDay has a free online journal program and an application for the iOS devices.
The final step in your walking for fitness plan is to identify a system to track your goals and your daily efforts. It’s the surest way to find success and achieve your goals. Before we wrap up, let’s take a look at a few sample walking for fitness plans to help you create your own individualized program.
A Walking For Fitness Plan Sample
Speed and Pace Goals:
Walk at your normal pace for three minutes, then increase the speed for one minute, then back to your normal speed for another three minutes.
Repeat this 1:3 interval cycling for your entire workout. Over time, increase the work and decrease the active rest.
You’ll want to identify a target speed for your intervals and you’ll need to identify a timeframe for your workout. For example, you might walk for 30 minutes a day with this plan. You’ll gradually increase the speed you’re walking so that over time you’ll cover more distance during your 30 minute workout. This type of plan works for any of the different types of walking discussed.
Time and Distance Goals:
Walk for a predetermined time or distance on day one through day three. For example, walk for 20 minutes or one mile.
On the fourth day, add time or distance to your walk. For example, you might walk for 25 minutes or a mile and a quarter.
Gradually increase the time or distance you walk, keeping your pace consistent from day to day. You don’t want to slow down, which means you may need to take small steps toward your end goal.
Identify the average steps you take each day. Track your steps for three to five days to determine your average.
Increase your steps in even increments with the ultimate goal to reach 10,000 steps.
Maintain that 10,000 steps a day goal for a month. Then consider adding more walking to your day. You might increase it to 11,000 steps a day for example.