The Benefits of a Fitness Tracker

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Getting fit, losing weight, improving health, or increasing exercise are many of the goals that we hear people discussing when they examine their lifestyles or think about what kind of improvements they want to make in themselves. And inevitably, one of the questions that follows is, Should I get a fitness tracker?

That’s a great question! To help you determine whether you should, and which would be best for you, we want to explore what they are and what they can offer. Then you can look at the facts and decide if you think it can help you achieve your goals.

But first, let’s define fitness tracker. A fitness tracker is a wearable technology (usually on your wrist) that monitors different aspects of your health. What it monitors is dependent upon the kind. If you have an iPhone, you can pair it with an Apple Watch. If you want something a little smaller, you can get a Fitbit or a Garmin. Or if you prefer a ring, you could choose that as well.

Fitness trackers offer numerous features. Most will monitor your heart rate and will track your movements or steps throughout the day, including the amount of calories you burned. Some allow you to log the calories you’re consuming. Some will monitor your pulse ox, gait and balance patterns, stress levels, and recovery time after exercise. Many allow you to log your water consumption as well. Some can take an EKG (electrocardiogram) or, when integrated with a glucose monitor, can help you keep track of your glucose levels.

So let’s look at the many ways a fitness tracker can help maintain or increase your fitness levels or monitor some current health problems.

They can help monitor your heart health.

Not only can you watch trends in your heart rate, but you can take a rudimentary EKG, find how your heart recovers after exercise, and more. Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, MD, MHS, agrees that trackers can be useful and said, “Fitness trackers are a great tool for heart health. . . . Being more active and changing your habits is important, but it can be difficult. Tracking likely helps a lot of people when combined with a clear goal to shoot for.” These devices can usually send the data to a smartphone so you can discuss trends with your cardiologist, should you have questions or concerns.

They can make us aware of inactivity.

Have you ever been so engrossed with work or a TV show that you forget to get up and move around? It happens to most people at some time in their lives. That’s why some trackers have settings to alert you every hour to get up and move around. Even just taking a few minutes each hour to walk around the house or office or to stand up and stretch can do wonders for your mood and increase the number of calories you burn every hour.

They monitor your sleep patterns.

If you wear the tracker to bed, it will give you an analysis of how much sleep you got and which kinds. This is great information to have if you have irregular sleep patterns or aren’t sure if you are getting enough deep sleep or REM sleep. Keeping track of trends over a period of time will help you determine if you need to make changes to your sleep routine.

They serve as motivation.

It can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise. If this is you, you are not alone. According to Verywell Fit, “An estimated 31 million adults age 50 or older get no physical activity aside from what is needed for daily living.” Holding yourself accountable by keeping track of calories burned, by increasing your exercise, and by having a reminder alert you that it’s time to exercise is extremely beneficial.

They help you keep track of goals.

Once you set your goals, you can input the data and your device will keep track of trends and show you how you have progressed over time.

They can help keep you safe.

The later versions of Apple Watch, for example, will send an alert if you fall or are in an accident. Many devices also have alerts for high or low heart rates, which is useful for people with certain heart conditions.

They can lead to fun competition.

You and your friends or coworkers can set fitness goals together and keep track of them each day. This can also serve as encouragement on those days when you are too tired to exercise. Having a friend share their two-mile jog may be just the motivation you need to get up and move.

Fitness trackers can be a fantastic way to monitor your health and to keep you from spending too much time on the couch. But before you spend the money on a tracker, you will want to assess your needs (and your budget, as some can get pricey) and determine your goals. Once you set your goals and know what you want to monitor, you can make a determination regarding which to purchase. A simple google search of the features you want will help lead you to the right device. So if your goal has been to raise your fitness level and you just can’t find the motivation, maybe a fitness tracker is for you. Try one and see!

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