Tracking Your Fitness... How Much Is Too Much?

The adage "The Information Age" loosely translated is the "gathering and almost instantaneous transmission of vast amounts of information"... We can pretty much find out anything at anytime. We are only limited by how fast our fingers can tap a key...

This ability to "gather" information can be both a blessing and really depends on your perspective.

The other day one of my clients came to me and excitedly proclaimed that she had taken 10,000 steps yesterday and asked me if that was good. I said it depends, she says on what? I said did you get to where you were going?! Now before you call me a jerk, just hear me out.

Information is only useful as long as its RELEVANT.

If she was going somewhere and it required 10,001 steps, then she never quite reached her destination. We've been inundated with heart rate monitors, step counters, calorie counters, sleep monitors… If it can attach to your wrist or chest we can track it. The key question I'm trying to ask, "Is the information you've gathered relevant to you and your goals and needs?"

I'll put my client's question in a different context:

"An average person has a stride length of 2.1 to 2.5 feet. That means that it takes over roughly 2000 steps to walk 1 mile" now why is this relevant?  A sedentary person might only average 1000 to 3000 steps per day. If my client was previously sedentary and we were just starting her fitness program, then 10,000 steps would be an incredible achievement (10,000 steps works out to apprx 5 miles). In this circumstance, knowing her step count is very relevant.

Her heart health and caloric expenditure will benefit greatly if this is something that she is able to maintain regularly. My client normally walks the Rose Bowl 1.5 times around, that works out to almost 5 miles, so her step count wasn't in and of itself significant, relative to what she normally does.

You beginning to see my point?

Another client of mine recent started to track her sleep (it is a feature on a popular monitor) and she noticed that she was getting fragmented sleep cycles. In spite of her best efforts to workout regularly and eat properly, she found she was frequently tired. After tracking her sleep for a month with no significant change in her pattern she decided to see a specialist. They discovered that she had sleep apnea. She had it treated and now sleeps well and almost never complains of fatigue now. The information was relevant.

The key is to take only the information that is relevant to you and your goals. Trying to dissect every bit of information that comes across your plate only frustrates you and undermines your program.

As usual, be gentle with yourself and whatever you chose to do...have fun!

Coach Allister Buchanan