FastCompany has a novel idea suggesting that we consider using fitness trackers to monitor “pain level” during workouts. The idea being that through monitoring our suffering on a scale of 1 – 10 we could avoid working out too hard. They came up with an outline for a pain algorithm that consists of diet, sleep, heart rate and difficulty of the workout. A quality workout would be determined based on the amount of time at a given pain level.
Let’s say you haven’t worked out in a while and you’ve fallen out of shape. You might reach your pain factor norm well before you finish the normal time or distance of your workout. Time to stop.
On the other hand, if you’re having one of those good days when your body seems eager to work out, and you finish your normal workout before hitting your normal pain level, you might choose to tack an extra 10 minutes on to the end of the session.
It could serve as a motivation tool. Let’s say you’re a little tired when you start your normal 35-minute run around the park. And five minutes in you’re hurting. If you know you have, in the past, powered through the same run at the same pain level, it might make you think, “I’ve been here before; I know I can do this” and keep going.
On the same logic, pain (or, rather, too much of it) doesn’t always turn into gain. Many people work out too hard (often driven by guilt about not working out enough) and endure more than a workout’s worth of pain. That can have physical risks, like injuries from trying to lift too much weight when you’re tired.