Three health indicators you should be tracking before you’re 30

Picture: Kate Prince.

There are plenty of studies that show our health and fitness become harder to maintain as we age – but most people can tell just by the way they feel.

It’s harder to lose those few extra kilos and you can’t run as far as you could when you were a teen.

While, frustratingly, it’s easy to stay fit and healthy when we’re young, it’s actually more important to be fit and healthy as we age.

Unfortunately, not enough Australians are getting the recommended 150 minutes of regular exercise per week, and even fewer are tracking their exercise to determine whether or not it’s actually effective.

Tracking your health and fitness is a great way to keep you motivated, accountable to your goals and honest about your performance.

Here are three ways you should be tracking your health and fitness before you hit the big 3-0.

Track your steps

Most people know that they should be taking 10,000 steps each day to maintain a standard level of fitness – but why 10,000?

Interestingly, the 10,000-step count was a by-product of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, with the introduction of a device called a manpo-kei pedometer. The step count was based on the recommended daily activity needed to burn 3000 calories – the daily intake of an average Japanese adult man.

The number stuck, and to this day it is the goal recommended by global health bodies.

However, steps aren’t created equal. A walk across a flat surface is not equal to a hike up a mountain – but equally, 10,000 flat steps are better than none.

The main recommendation is to move more every day. Some health experts recommend 6-7,000 normal steps, and up to 4,000 “active” steps – steps that are part of a workout, such as a jog – as a daily goal.

But what if you’re a swimmer or a cyclist?

The Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro has been designed with auto-activity tracking, so it can tell when you’re running, cycling or swimming, or even when you’re using a rowing machine or an elliptical trainer – without manual activation.

You can also set your own daily activity goals in the Samsung Health app, which will automatically sync with your Gear Fit2 Pro to track and report on your activity – not to mention it will literally buzz you into action if you’ve been inactive for too long.

Track your heart rate

While it’s good to have a general understanding of your workout and non-workout goals, and the ability to track different types of activities, being able to measure the intensity of your exercise is crucial to understanding your overall health.

No matter how fit you think you are, your heartrate can’t lie.

Picture: Kate Prince

Heart rate tracking will show how well your pulmonary system (lungs), cardiovascular system (heart, blood, arteries) and muscles are working together.

Are you actually elevating your heart rate at the gym, or are you coasting? Are you stressed at work, and maintaining a higher resting heart rate than you should for your age or weight?

Monitoring your heart rate consistently throughout the day is an easy way to properly measure these things. The Gear Fit2 Pro tracks your heart rate using infrared light to measure bloodflow through your wrist.

But that data alone isn’t always helpful – it will also categorise your heart rate into zones, from very light to maximum, so you can begin to understand the difference between where your resting heart rate should be (50-90 beats per minute on average for adults), and what your maximum heart rate should be during exercise.

This will in turn allow you to know when you need to push harder, or when you’ve improved, and how effective you are at pushing yourself to hit that peak zone during workouts.

Track your waistline

The scales don’t tell the full story when it comes to a healthy weight. Scales don’t take into account your height or your body composition (how much muscle you have).

As muscle weighs more than fat, the scales actually disadvantage people with more athletic body types and shouldn’t be used as a single indicator for health and fitness. It’s also a bad measurement for someone that is trying to lose weight, but gaining muscle through increased training could be keeping the scales in the same place.

This is where waist measurements are a good option to keep track of your overall health.

The Australian Heart Foundation recommends that, for most adults, a “waist measurement of greater than 94 cm for men and 80 cm for women is an indicator of the level of internal fat deposits which coat the heart, kidneys, liver, digestive organs and pancreas”.

“This can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.”

“Waist measurement helps to assess risk by measuring the amount of fat carried around your middle.”

If you don’t have measuring tape, you could also take before and after pictures on your phone.

A holistic approach

Tracking your health and fitness, if nothing else, is a good habit to get into. Whether it’s using a device like the Gear Fit2 Pro to actively track and measure data, or an old school measuring tape, the most important thing is that you’re aware of how important a fit and healthy body is, and now how to look after yourself.

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