Each New Year, millions of people resolve to make healthy lifestyle changes.
SMART goals empower people to improve their lives. Yet most give up on their resolutions before they see any results. Today's fitness devices like Biostrap are useful tools when working towards resolutions.
No matter what time of year, it helps to set SMART goals. These goals are:
Tracking key biometrics helps you measure and track progress as well as evaluate results. Sometimes motivation fades with a vague goal like "get fit," but tracking the numbers adds inspiration. A resting heart rate may decrease, oxygen saturation may increase, heart rate variability (HRV) may also increase. Watching the numbers improve highlights fitness improvements before the numbers on the scale drop or new muscles appear.
How to Use Biometrics Like HRV to Track SMART Goals
Goal: Improve Aerobic Fitness & Endurance
According to the American Council on Exercise, improvement in aerobic capacity results in improved flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles throughout the body. Muscles depend on a mixture of oxygen, glycogen (carbohydrates), and fats to provide fuel and energy. The better you are at consuming oxygen, the more endurance and physical work you can do.
Tips To Improve Aerobic Condition
- Aerobic improvements happen over time, consistently exercise at least three times a week at a moderate to vigorous intensity.
- Tracking working heart rate during a workout may help you grow more familiar with your body and pace yourself appropriately. Keep in mind individual heart rate varies depending on genetics, age, fitness, and environment. Therefore be flexible when aiming to work within specific heart rate zones and focus more on perceived exertion.
- Track baseline Heart Rate Variability (HRV) to get an idea how well you recover from your workouts.
Goal: Decrease Stress
Stress takes a toll on the body including the heart. A healthy lifestyle is your best defense. This goal is easier said than done as it involves balancing sleep, relaxation, fitness building activity, and good nutrition. Heart Rate Variability is one of the best ways to evaluate results from either a stress management program or a general healthy living lifestyle.
Key Metric: Heart rate variability
Tips For Your Stress Reduction program
- Allow yourself either a planned rest day or a light active recovery day following a vigorous workout (especially if you do anaerobic training) or after meeting a stressful deadline at work.
- Yoga, breathing exercises, tai chi and other mindful practices help many people deal with life's stresses and helps improve HRV over time.
- Prioritize sleep as rest is essential for the body to repair and recover from stress and illness.
Goal: Get More Active
You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking. Numerous studies indicate that frequent movement throughout the day helps reverse the many negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Fitness-building workouts are important, but most people are not able to spend hours each day exercising. Adding light activity in addition to your fitness routine helps.
Key Metrics: Movement classification and step counting
Tips To Increase Physical Activity
- Some people find a step counting activity tracker motivating. Keep in mind that step count as a measure is helpful but flawed. Not all activity translates to steps, for example cycling, yoga, calisthenics, and weight lifting are all beneficial activities that do not contribute to step count.
- Get creative and find ways to replace time you would normally sit with standing or moving. Some people work from a standing or treadmill desk for part of the day. Other options include walking in place or stretching while watching television and parking in a far away space for a little extra walking each day.
- Increased light activity may stress the body at first especially if introduced along with a stricter diet or increased vigorous exercise. Track HRV to monitor how well your body recovers from these changes.
Goal: Improve Strength & Muscular Fitness
Regular resistance training helps build muscular strength and fitness. Appropriate fitness-building activities include weight lifting, body weight calisthenics, resistance band training, and other similar activities. It is important to challenge the muscles each workout and to progressively overload the muscles over time. Equally important is to use consistent, good technique to prevent injury and to allow the muscles adequate recovery time.
A personal trainer is an excellent resource if you are new to resistance training. Once you know the basics, the movement and Activity Classification function on your Biostrap may help ensure consistent technique.
Key Metric: Activity Classification
Tips To Improve Muscular Strength
- Consider taking a small group class or working one on one with a personal trainer at first to ensure you learn correct technique.
- Allow adequate recovery time, this depends on the workout and your body. For intense strength training most people need to rest the worked muscle groups for at least a couple of days.
- The American Council on Exercise offers tips for those starting a resistance training program.
Tracking biometrics like heart rate variability and resting heart rate help you track hidden results from your fitness or health improvement programs. Devices like Biostrap help you set and work towards SMART goals this new year and beyond!
Sources And Resources
8 Things to Know About Aerobic Capacity (And How to Improve It), American Council on Exercise (ACE)
Perceived Exertion, Center of Disease Control
Sitting All Day: Worse For You Than You Might Think, National Public Radio