Let's face it: starting a new exercising plan is pretty exciting. You get to buy new clothes, check out the latest equipment and tell all of your friends about it on Facebook. But the real test of a personal exercise plan isn't how cute you look in your gear -- it's how effective the plan is for your body. By tracking your success and evaluating your plan du jour, you can make sure you're getting the most out of your regular workouts -- and those cute running shoes you bought.
Check your workout plan for all of the necessary components. A solid workout plan contains three components -- cardio, strength and flexibility. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that healthy adults get 30 minutes of cardio five times per week, participate in strength training two to three times per week, along with stretching for a balanced routine. If a workout routine doesn't have all of the proper components, it might not be effective.
Set long- and short-term goals that allow you to easily see your progress. Setting goals can help you track everything from how much fun you're having to seeing a change in your body, stamina, weight and strength. Try setting a weekly goal of perfecting your posture or getting to the upper end of reps for a particular exercise, which will contribute to a long-term goal of building muscle.
Track your improvements in a tangible way by keeping a chart, jotting down your success or even blogging about your improvement. Not only will tracking allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of your workout plan, but can also be motivational and help you stay consistent. Seeing the improvement in weight for a bicep curl or the timer on the treadmill improve is a sure sign that your hard work is paying off.
Check more than just the scale for evaluation. Your progress is about way more than a tiny number. Stamina, muscle tone, the way your clothes fit, the way you feel about yourself and other numbers like your blood pressure and your body mass index (BMI) mean more than just your overall weight. Keep track of other markers for success so when you don't see movement on the scale, you don't feel like a total failure.
Test yourself regularly to see how effective your exercise plan is for your body. Doing a monthly fitness test allows you to accurately track improvement over time. For instance, if you're a runner, try a 30-minute run each month. If you're improving, you should be able to run farther during each consecutive monthly test run.
- Talk to your doctor for further evaluation. She can help you decide on an exercise routine and help you track health markers to test its efficiency at creating a healthier body.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.