A few days ago, I listened to an interview in which Tom Brady discussed his outlook on fitness, nutrition, recovery, mindset and sleep. His philosophy has been developed over 20 years as a professional athlete, and I found myself agreeing with most of his observations (in spite of my allegiance to the Kansas City Chiefs).
The foundation of his belief system included understanding his own health data. I have opinions about personal health data, too.
Back in the '80s and '90s, those interested in quantifying their health had to consult their physician, take copious workout notes and use long division. I vividly recall clients bringing in dog-eared notebooks filled with scribbles about each mile they ran or each weight they lifted. The technology for tracking personal health simply didn't exist until the 2000s, when companies like Garmin and Fitbit changed the world.
These days, $100 buys a device that can track everything from your respiration rate to sleep patterns and accurately assess the body's response to specific activities, food, entertainment and more. Best of all, most devices automatically upload data into a cloud server for storage, analysis and reporting. It's all seamless, and even those less comfortable with technology can easily view their personal health data with one click on a dedicated mobile app.
The value of understanding one's personal health data is tremendous. Knowing your blood pressure, heart rate, hydration level, caloric expenditure and other information leads to better decisions about diet, exercise and recovery. It is an incredible advantage that should be leveraged.
In my experience, simply having the data available is enough to foster curiosity and improve understanding of one's physiology. Taking a sophisticated, organized approach to personal health is one of the most important time investments one can make.
This week's exercise will certainly generate some activity in any wearable device, as the Alternating Up Down challenges the upper body and core with a simple but effective move.
1. Get into the "up" phase of a pushup on the floor.
2. Bend the right elbow until the right forearm is on the floor. Now, do the same with the left.
3. Place the left hand on the floor and extend the left elbow. Now do the same with the right.
4. Continue alternating the "up and down" method between arms until you have performed 12 with each side.
5. Do two or three sets with 45 seconds rest in between.
While understanding personal health data won't transform anyone into Tom Brady, it does increase the chances that better lifestyle decisions will be made. And that's really the takeaway from this week's column — use your data to your advantage in order to live a long, healthy life. Now, let's get to work!
Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.