Yes, it can be exhausting. Yes, it does take time and effort. But the effects it will have on your life are indescribable. What am I talking about? I am talking about the benefits of tracking your health and everyday activities. This post will provide you with answers on what are the benefits of tracking your health and how to track it. It will even provide you with tools that you can use to make tracking certain activities easier. Everybody can gain something from this information, from everyday pedestrians to elite athletes.
Benefits Of Tracking Your Sleep
A good night’s sleep is one of the most important factors for having a healthy life. It is the key to keeping you mentally and physically fresh ensuring you are at your best self every single day. When we sleep all of our cells have time to fight all the accumulated inflammation. This function is essential for our brain health. If the inflammation in our brain is constant, as the cause of lack of sleep, it can be associated with few both short and long-term negative effects. Short-term negative effects may be in the form of brain fog, lack of attention, and anxiety. Those factors contribute to an increased risk of accidents, even fatal ones if you are a diver, as well as a general decrease in how you perceive your life. When it comes to long-term effects you have an increased risk of developing certain conditions such as dementia.
So proper sleep lowers those risks and maintains appropriate cognitive and mental health.
When it comes to physical health, our body needs time to heal. All of the activities performed during the day do take a toll on your body. Not getting proper sleep increases your chances of getting injured. So if you are an athlete or physically active this especially applies to you, but it is important as much for everybody else. If you have a physically demanding job the effects of lack of sleep may not be directly noticeable. As time passes the risk of developing chronic conditions or pain increases.
Furthermore tacking your sleep allows you to build and keep a healthy habit ensuring that the next night’s sleep is of good quality. Falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day causes your circadian rhythm to function properly. Circadian rhythm is responsible for regulating your 24-hour cycle, meaning how your body functions during that period. Having a consistent and undisturbed circadian system does not only have benefits for your sleep quality. Your cardiovascular health and endocrine system function better as well. This leads to more stable hormonal levels which promote better physical functions and a healthier mental state.
Better Structure Of Your Life
There are far more benefits exceeding those physiological. Imagine what your days would look like if you woke up and went to sleep at the same time every day. You would have increased control of your days and will be able to structure them more efficiently. This could lead to making new healthier habits, getting things done, and taking your financials in the right direction. Not only that, you will even have more time to devote to yourself and the ones you love the most. Such a small change could make such a big difference.
Benefits Of Tracking What You Eat
Tracking what you eat may be the hardest aspect of your life to track. I am not talking only about eating healthy and avoiding sugar, unsaturated fats, processed oils, food, etc. You should already be avoiding those foods if you live a long healthy life. What I am talking about is tracking your calorie intake and even if you want to take it a step further, tracking your macronutrients.
Tracking calories is much easier and in most cases is done for purposes of going up or down in weight, gaining muscle, or losing fat. Why should you rack calories if you want to achieve the previously mentioned things? Well, it comes down to energy expenditure, meaning calories in versus calories out. If you want to lose fat, you should be eating in a calorie deficit. This is usually done by eating around 200-500 calories below your maintenance. To gain weight and muscle you should eat in a slight calorie surplus, meaning above your maintenance. I will shake the link here if you are interested in approximately how many calories you should be eating in a day. Of course to ensure that you keep or gain more muscles than fat, you should be performing resistance training and eating protein-rich food.
Now tracking macros can be a bit harder and more useful for those that are interested in taking their health and everyday life to another level. Tracking macronutrients is especially beneficial for an individual that are physically active such as athletes. What are macronutrients? To keep it simple, the macronutrients usually referred to are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They are cornerstones of your diet and you should get plenty of each with every meal. Now how much of each macronutrient you should intake through your diet varies depending on your goals. In future posts, I will talk about this topic in more detail.
How do macronutrients relate to this post then and why you should track them? It all comes down to being able to look back on how your diet was and access how you are feeling right now. If you are getting enough calories but do not see muscle gain it may be because you are not getting enough proteins. Do you lack energy while training, then maybe you lack carbohydrates? Even fats are important as they regulate different hormonal systems in your body. Tracking them allows you to get a sense of how your diet is affecting you know and what changes you should make.
Benefits Of Tracking Your Heart Rate
If you are an athlete or seriously interested in your cardiovascular, health tracking your heart rate is a way to go. First and foremost you will know if you’re getting fitter. This is easily done by tracking your resting heart rate. Resting heart rate is most optimally measured as soon as you wake up. Generally speaking athletes with great endurance and conditioning have a resting heart rate of between 35-50 beats per minute. This is quite a low heart rate which is good if you do not have any underlying conditions of course.
So the lower the resting heart rate the fitter you are. Resting heart rate can be lowered by training compared to the maximal heart rate which can not be affected. The second reason why you should track your heart rate is so that you know if you are pushing yourself hard enough. It is quite easy to stop or lower your training intensity as soon as you get in major discomfort.
But how do you know if you could have done more? If you stopped before reaching the necessary level? Our mind is the one that usually gives up first, while our body has much more to give. That is why you should know how high your heart rate is. Can I give more or not?
The final reason why you should track your heart rate is so that you can pace yourself during training. The fitter you get the easier it is to train harder than you should. In the long run, overtraining can be detrimental and lead to an increased risk for injury. This especially applies to the athletes because some of you do not have as many rest periods as needed.
How To Track It
There are 3 tools that I am using personally for tracking my everyday physical and mental health. I feel that these tools are necessary for me and my needs. Keep that in mind as we are all different and have different health goals.
First and foremost the tool I feel many of you will get great benefits from and is the easiest to use is Fitbit smartwatches. Why I love FitBit is because they are extremely easy to use. Easy as putting on a watch. Fitbit provides all the necessary information that I talked about above. I use FitBit Sense. It keeps track of my sleeping quality, heart rate, and activity levels. It even gives feedback about how you should pace yourself for achieving personalized goals. You even get external benefits such as your picture of your heartbeats as well as a stress meter. Fitbit Sense, which I use, is on the pricier side but there are many cheaper Fitbit health trackers and smartwatches. So check out each one and pick the one that fits your needs.
The second tool that I use is some form of calorie and macronutrient tracker. There are many different ones out there that work perfectly fine. I am using MyFitnessPal, a quite popular one I would say. It is easy to use, just enter the food that you ate or scan the barcode and insert the amount eaten in weight. In the beginning, it can be a bit strange, even annoying at some points, but after no time it becomes a habit to track food. If you want to keep an accurate track of your calories and macronutrients you should get a scale to measure up each food item.
Last but not least, maybe the most important tool for keeping a track of your health is a journal. Keeping a journal can be complicated for some individuals as you do not know what to write. In reality, it is quite simple. Start by writing whatever comes to your mind related to your day. How happened? What emotions did you feel when that happened? What did you eat? Was it tasty? It does not matter when you are starting. As you become more skilled you will get a better structure for writing journals. In the end, you have your journal to keep track of your mental and physical health. You can always read it again and notice the changes in your health and feelings. Maybe you wrote something specific in your journal that created a new positive feeling or habit in your life. So it basically falls down to having concrete evidence to look back on for a better understanding of your current health.