Coaches Corner | Fitness Trackers and You
In our world of instant gratification, it’s no wonder that every company under the sun has begun developing electronics to help people reach their fitness goals. But, are they really helpful? Let’s discuss.
You can do an online search for fitness electronics and the results of your search will take up more than 10 pages. With everything from a simple pedometer to the increasingly popular MyZone, electronics have taken over yet another facet of our lives: exercise time. If you take a quick survey of a group of 20-30 people as you go about your day, chances are that you’ll see 15 of them with some form of fitness tracker of various forms.
Because some of these gadgets can tell you everything from how many steps you’ve taken to your heart rate to suggestions to get up and move around if you’ve been dormant for to long, the price tags run the gamut from low to high. For those of you who haven’t taken the plunge yet, you may be wondering what price point will be the best place of entry for you.
Let’s first go over what they can do:
Fitness trackers have a variety of different functions, and some of them work better than others. Here’s a rundown of what fitness bands can do as well as the technology behind them:
- Steps. Regardless of the brand, model or price point, most fitness trackers offer the ability to count steps.
- Check Your Vital Signs. Another common ability for fitness trackers is a heart rate monitor to measure your pulse while you are working out as well as when you are at rest. A handful can also use clues such as perspiration and temperature to determine how hard you’re working out..
- Calorie Counter. A helpful tool for those who are working out to lose weight, many bands offer the ability to determine approximately how many calories you have burned during a workout.
- Sleep Monitor. A newish feature, many fitness trackers now offer an option to monitor your sleep patterns. They can detect how well and how long you have slept.
- iPhone Sync. Some companies, like Apple, work hard to ensure their products all work in tandem. That is no different for their fitness trackers such as those found in the Apple Watch. Working closely with a smartphone app (in this case an Apple iPhone app), you can track your activity and sleep in real time to help you crate healthy habits.
Are they worth it and do they work? Fitness trackers were created with today’s consumer in mind. Always wanting to be updated as to what is going on around them, it was thought that being able to know in real time, how well you are doing in a quest toward a healthy lifestyle would help people stay on track. Additionally, because many of the trackers can be programmed to allow you to share your information with others for the purpose of a daily challenge, the accountability factor could also be persuasive toward making people stay the course.
Unfortunately, research has proven to be hard to interpret. Some studies have shown that, yes, the use of a fitness tracker has had a positive impact on owner’s lives. Other studies have demonstrated that there was no change in attitude or that more desirable results could be attributed to the trackers themselves.
It really comes down to a personal choice and the personal desire to stick to a program. A fitness tracker isn’t going to d anyone any good if all you do is sit on the couch watching Netflix programs while wearing it. However, if you’re someone who is goal oriented, working toward a personal goal using the tracking device could motivate you to succeed. Before you go all in, though, research the different options and price points to determine the best device to help you reach your goals.