By Marjie Gilliam

Cox Newspapers

DAYTON, Ohio — When it comes to getting into shape, keeping track of your progress is an important element for maintaining motivation. Studies show that those who monitor their exercise lose more weight, are more motivated and make greater improvements in fitness levels than those who don’t.

One of the most convenient and popular ways to monitor progress, the Polar Loop Activity Tracker, is for those who are serious about getting results. Waterproof, and designed to work 24/7, it monitors number of steps taken, activity milestones reached, calories burned and time of day on a bright LED display.

It features an inactivity alert, reminding you to get up and move when you’ve been sitting too long. A heart rate sensor is available as an add-on for those who want even greater monitoring ability. For more information, visit

Experts recommend 10,000 steps most days of the week for healthy adults, including all steps throughout the day. Generally speaking, taking under 5,000 steps during the course of the day would be correlated with a sedentary lifestyle, 5,000-9,999 steps would be slightly to somewhat active, 10,000 and over would be considered active.

If weight loss is a goal, an hour or more of physical activity, with exertion most days of the week, is recommended. Exertion doesn’t have to mean all-out effort, but you should feel as if you are being challenged.

Take measurements, especially around the midsection. Visceral fat, carried around the middle, is associated with heart disease and other health problems. Use a cloth tape measure and put it around the widest part of your waist, being careful not to pull too tightly. Record this number and re-measure every month. A waist size of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women is considered high-risk.

Many exercisers measure heart rate as a way to evaluate fitness levels and progress. The age-predicted formula is the most commonly used method of figuring maximum heart rate. It involves subtracting your age from 220 for males and 226 for females and deciding at what percentage of that number you wish to exercise.

As an example, healthy adults who are accustomed to regular cardio workouts might start with 60 to 65 percent of MHR as a warm-up, increase to 70 to 80 percent (brisk walking pace) and may boost to as much as 85 to 90 percent (huffing and puffing pace).