In a past blog, we looked at why fitness trackers do not really track fitness, based on the definition of fitness for health and well-being:
“The ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In other words, fitness is measured by how well you can do what you need and want to in every day life. Exercise is training for life!
One important part of fitness for daily life is your stamina – how easily can you do the activities in daily life that require you to move continuously for an extended period of time? If you feel short of breath or tired after doing an activity like walking from your car to a store, or doing housecleaning, it’s a sign your cardiovascular system is overworking for the task at hand.
Measuring your total steps or miles per day does not necessarily improve stamina. For building stamina we need continuous movement done regularly so your body can adapt, making it easier to move for longer period so of time. To build stamina, its best if the level of that activity is at a comfortable challenge for your breathing. These regular longer bouts of movement at the just right level for your body provide the practice your cardiovascular system needs to improve stamina.
The Active 10 program by Public Health England is focused on helping people focus on building stamina in the same way fitness trackers help people remember to move more during the day. Instead of total steps, the goal is to move continuously for three 10 minute bouts a day.
They recommend walking at a “brisk” pace, but remember, brisk is relative to your body’s ability. Brisk means moving so your breathing is at a moderate to comfortable challenge – NOT uncomfortable. It does not really matter how fast you go or how many miles you cover. The Active 10 App is a wonderful free tool for tracking your bouts of walking in this way.
You can track true fitness by making a simple list of all the things that currently make you short of breath or fatigued if you do them for too long. Check in each month to see if these activities are getting easier. This is a true measure of fitness – that ability to do daily activities with more ease.
Let your fitness tracker reminder you to avoid prolonged stillness. This is an important health goal. But also remember fitness is about building stamina and for that we need longer bouts of movement. The bonus is, when you use your daily life as a measure of your fitness, your motivation to move is more likely to be stronger as well.
Keep Moving, Be Well,
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