Like a food diary, an exercise journal provides accountability – and a means of encouragement. “The most important factor in any exercise program is consistency,” says Neil F. Gordon, MD, medical director, Center for Heart Disease Prevention and Management at St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System in Savannah, Ga. “Tracking the positive or negative effects of each activity allows people to recognize trends, so they can see what works for them and what doesn’t, and then revise their program to achieve maximum results,” he says.

Seeing positive trends in your exercise journal is a great motivator, and your entries can be shared with your doctor, so she can see you are complying with recommendations and making progress. Try a paper print-out, such as Arthritis Today's free printable exercise tracker, or a free online tool  like Track + React, which is also available as a free mobile app. (Tools like Track + React help you also keep track of eating, stress, sleep, symptoms and more.) You can always use a plain notebook to record workout information, or purchase paperback or hardback exercise journals at a bookstore or online, too.