Research has found that keeping an exercise diary – which is a form of self-monitoring – is one of the best ways to measure your progress and stay accountable after starting an exercise program. A recent study at the St. Marianna University School of Medicine Hospital in Kawasaki, Japan, found that self-monitoring increase the likelihood that people who’d had heart attack would stick an exercise program six months later. The theory is that by monitoring their activity they gained self-efficacy – a sense that they had the will and the way to accomplish their goals.
It’s simple to do. All you need is a notebook and pen. Each time you do aerobic exercise, strength training or other forms of physical activity, write it down, along the day, the time of day and the duration of the activity; also, note how you felt during and after exercising any physical, psychological or other gains you noticed. “When you see it on paper, it can really have an impact,” Cogan says. And that impact can help you stick with your program over the long haul.