These days, it seems as though everyone, from your Facebook friends to your next door neighbor, is wearing a personal fitness device. These devices track heart rate, measure calories expended, and let individuals know just how well they’re doing on their personal fitness journey. If you’re considering investing in one yourself, you’ve probably realized how pricey many of those devices are, and you might find yourself wondering whether or not they are really worth it. Do personal fitness trackers really contribute to a healthy life?
Benefits of Personal Fitness Trackers
Personal fitness trackers are able to identify plenty of information that makes it easier for you to keep track of your daily habits. Just one week with a fitness tracker, depending on the model you’ve chosen and the features it offers, can tell you:
- What your resting heart rate actually is (a good indicator of your overall fitness level)
- How many calories you’re really burning throughout the day
- How intensely you’re exercising
- How many steps you take throughout the day
- How well you slept the night before
- How many flights of stairs you’ve climbed
All that data has a number of key advantages, especially if you keep up with your fitness tracker and enter information about exercises that it doesn’t recognize, what you did with your time when you weren’t wearing the device, and how many calories you’ve consumed throughout the day. While it’s not a perfect picture of how much weight you’ll be able to lose or how much strength you’re gaining, using a personal fitness tracker can enable you to keep track of your fitness goals like never before.
Learn how many calories you’re really burning throughout the day. Most women assume that a 2000-calorie diet is appropriate for maintaining their current weight. If the goal is weight loss, they might assume that as little as 1200 calories per day is the appropriate amount to meet their goals (here’s a hint: it’s not). When you know how many calories you’re actually burning every day, you can more accurately tailor your diet to reflect your calorie burn. This includes eating an adequate, healthy diet to fuel your body throughout the day.
Learn how active you really are. A busy, stay-at-home mom might not realize how much time she spends on her feet throughout the day. A working mom might struggle with the realization that she spends more time behind her desk than participating in any form of activity. Piecing together this information allows you to make critical changes to your activity levels, in order to maintain a healthier you.
Track actual calories in. Many people are less accurate at estimating calories than they think. They glance at labels and assume they’re getting “close enough,” but never actually take the time to calculate it out. Most fitness trackers come with an app that allows you to see how many calories you’re actually consuming when compared to your current activity level.
Track your sleep. You might feel chronically tired without ever realizing why, until you get a good look at the results of your sleep tracker and realize that you’re regularly staying up past your stated “bedtime.” Seeing it laid out on the screen is a great way to remind yourself to make sleep a priority.
See your goals more clearly. When you can see your fitness goals, from taking a certain number of steps to burning a specific number of calories each day, you’re more likely to make the effort to meet them! When you look down at noon and realize that you have only 1,000 of your 10,000 steps, it’s a great incentive to get up and take a walk or participate in another form of exercise instead of chowing down at your desk. You can also see how your goals are progressing over time. Do you struggle to meet your step goals on weekdays, then spend the weekend “resting” after a hard week? You will also see how your weight loss is progressing over time.
Create a group dynamic without having to meet up. Thanks to the ready availability of group challenges, you can participate in challenges with your friends, neighbors, and coworkers every week, or even every day, if that’s what it takes to get you motivated.
Drawbacks of Fitness Trackers
With all the awesome benefits available for fitness trackers, many assume they are a miracle device. However, the technology is not perfect yet, and there are still some drawbacks.
Enhanced feelings of guilt occur when you don’t reach your goals. When you’re constantly the one in last place when you participate in a fitness challenge or you never see the smiling acknowledgment that you’ve met your goals at the end of the day, you might feel discouraged and unwilling to continue. Setting more realistic goals might help with this process: choose something above your average, but not a number that’s unattainable.
Fitness trackers might not help individuals who already exercise regularly. The incentive for using fitness trackers lies in their ability to motivate people to get up and get moving. If you already exercise regularly and are using a different app or method for healthy eating, you might not need a fitness tracker.
Some devices are uncomfortable or unattractive. That means that you won’t want to wear them all the time, and they only work if you consistently wear them. Trying one on before making a final purchasing decision may help you choose a better fitness tracker for you.
They aren’t as accurate as you’d like. Fitness trackers can give you a great idea of your general activity level, but they aren’t accurate down to the last step. Activities like weightlifting don’t register well, pushing a stroller or grocery cart can interfere with the device’s ability to track steps, and its ability to measure the distance you’ve gone depends on the tracker itself.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not a fitness tracker is the best choice for your fitness needs is up to you. For many, the motivation that comes from tracking daily activity is incentive enough. Others prefer their own forms of motivation and don’t feel that they need a pricey device to do it. Looking for more advice about living a healthier, happier life? Contact us today.