Maintaining a workout routine can be mostly about having the motivation to get up and get out. Even so, you should also have a plan for what you should watch out for while you're sweating. To get the most of your workout, make sure that you're monitoring these stats while you exercise.
- Heart rate: You should monitor your heart rate so that you are reaching your cardio goals, such as the right level of intensity in your workouts. It also helps to know what your max heart rate is so that you don't continuously overwork yourself — you should normally be working out at 60 to 90 percent of your heart rate unless you are sprinting or otherwise doing interval training. If you don't want to invest in a heart rate monitor, you'll have to do the math to find out your heart rate manually. Just make sure you're using the newer formula for determining your maximum heart rate; the old school "220 minus your age" formula isn't optimized for women. Learn how to calculate your maximum heart rate more accurately.
Read on for more stats you should be monitoring with every workout.
- Calories burned: You may be exercising for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with weight loss, but even so, knowing how much energy you're expending while you exercise helps you get a clear view of how much your routine is affecting your health. And if you are trying to drop some pounds, knowing how much you're burning is probably what you want to know about the most. Invest in a device that tracks how many calories you're burning during a workout, enter accurate information in the machines at the gym, or check resources online that can give you an estimate of how many calories you're burning (for example,here's a chart of how many calories you burn while running).
- Your progress: Remember when you started out your exercise routine? Maybe you wanted to leave halfway through that exercise class, and now you can sweat the whole way through. Or maybe you couldn't run a mile without stopping but now do a daily five without a second thought. It's important to keep track of your progress so you have a concrete idea of just how much more fit you are now. Take time to acknowledge (not to mention celebrate!) your accomplishments by keeping a workout journal or using an iPhone app that tracks your workouts.
Be sure to enter our Get Fit For 2012 giveaways for prizes like running shoes for the year from Asics, a $500 gift card for Under Armour, or a deluxe food processor. All good tools for helping you attain your fitness and health goals for the year!