How To Get The Most Out Of Your Fitness Tracker
By Jen Ator and Wanita Nicol
Every step you take, these clever little gadgets will help you reach your goals
Look around any cocktail party and you’re bound to spot the must-have accessory of the moment – a bracelet that doesn’t quite go with the wearer’s outfit and looks more Star Trek than Shimansky.
Fitness trackers – which work by detecting your heart-rate and movement throughout the day, logging it into an algorithm and spitting out a bunch of data about the state of your health – are helping active women up their game by providing the kind of insights that previously you’d need to book an appointment with a biokineticist to receive.
Gone are the days when you’d clip a pedometer to your waistband and try clock some extra steps. These days monitors wirelessly sync to your phone, giving you real-time updates on your energy expenditure, the quality of your sleep, how far you’ve walked, your heart rate and more. They even alert you when you’ve been sitting around for too long. And to add convenience to the mix, you can manage your mails, browse social media and play music, all from your wrist.
All those beeps and graphs not only make you more aware of your habits, they encourage you to improve them. After all, who doesn’t get a thrill from seeing a line graph climb? (No? Okay, maybe it’s just us.) One study found that participants who wore a simple pedometer daily walked 16 percent more than they did prior to participating in the study. The key? “Actually seeing real-time data throughout the day – which shows you how active (or inactive) you are – can help you proactively change those behaviours and create different results,” says study author Dr Jeanne Johnston.
Sold? Use these tips to get the most out of your monitor.
Pick the right one
Fitness trackers come in all shapes and sizes – and price ranges. Don’t be tempted to splash out on the newest FitBit with its multitude of functions if a simple step counter is all you need.
Share the wealth
Research suggests that using the social aspects of these devices – competing with friends or other users to see who clocked the most kays in a week and posting workout updates on your social networks – is key to prolonging people’s long-term use and engagement. Perish the thought? You can tweak your settings to allow only your inner circle to see what you’ve been up to.
Following a tailored exercise plan and combining it with reminders on your computer and phone can help you exercise more each week. Most trackers and apps have settings that can nudge you if you’ve been sitting behind your desk for too long or haven’t hit your target.
If you log 10 000 steps one day, but then decide it doesn’t match your outfit the rest of the week, you’re not getting an accurate picture of your typical physical activity. Similarly, recording your Zs ad hoc isn’t going to give you an accurate picture of your sleep patterns. Wear it for at least seven days straight to identify your average movement patterns.
Are you in a toxic relationship with your fitness tracker? Yes, you can be addicted! Here’s how to know if you need to take a step back from the counting craze.