Do I Really Need An Activity Tracker?

Intro.

Maybe you have asked yourself the same question: “Do I really need an activity tracker?

If you are a really active person with strong willpower and motivation to exercise every day, you know exactly how long you exercise, your calorie intake and burn, and the distance you run; the simple answer, in my opinion, is “no”.

For the rest of us, these activity devices may actually be quite helpful and motivate us to live healthier. Read on and I’ll explain how and why.

First, let us look back at some history and where it all began.

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Fitness Tracker History

A device constructed to measure how many steps you take is called a pedometer. They are a motivational tool designed to make you walk just a bit longer to reach a predetermined number of steps. It’s recommended that adults walk 10.000 steps a day to be healthy. If you want to lose weight you should try and aim for 20.000 steps.

Update: WHO actually now recommends that you are in some kind of moderate activity at least 30 minutes a day. That’s based on their statement that an average person should be moderately active 150 minutes a week.

Pedometers are old inventions and even Leonardo Da Vinci had ideas on how to such a device could work and how it could motivate people to move.

The first pedometer for the general public was introduced to the Japanese marked in 1965. It was a measuring device that was used in an 8 months training program that involved walking the necessary 10.000 steps a day.

Since then the sales and use of pedometers have exploded. A company called Walk4Life claimed they sold more than 1.5 million pedometers between 1999 and 2007. In addition to the sales from other manufacturers this number is surely a lot higher.

In 2004 McDonalds distributed 15 million pedometers in their Go Active! meals.

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New Technology For A New Time

After the boost on mobile and smart phones the price dropped on key components like three-way accelerometers which are crucial in fitness trackers. And with the introduction of smartphones clever people saw that fitness trackers and phones could be paired up to act as your own personal trainer.

After 2012 the sales on fitness trackers has really gone through the roof and new products are introduced all the time. It’s a race between the manufacturers to have the coolest gadget for the large group of people that want to be and stay healthy. The accuracy is improving all the time, and even if some complain they are not accurate enough, they are a lot better now than before.

All these new devices are really advanced pedometers with more functionality than their predecessors.

Motivation Is The Key

Motivation (image Pixabay)

Motivation (Image: Pixabay)

The key function for activity trackers are to act as a motivator!

With the right motivation it is a lot easier to get out and walk or run or do the exercises you need to do to accomplish your goals even if that is losing weight, swim longer or getting in shape. It helps you become an even healthier person than you would be without the feedback from the little gadget.

And healthier persons live longer and are happier.

The goals are daily, weekly or monthly but in my opinion, the daily goals are the most important ones. Pure everyday motivation is when a tech gadget, as an activity tracker really is, can tell you exactly how many steps you need to walk to reach your target or how many rounds you need to run.

You are constantly reminded that you need to get up and move a little bit more. And the little device knows if you haven’t moved at all that day.

What Does An Activity Tracker Do?

In addition to counting steps, fitness trackers usually give you feedback on how many calories you have burned, the distance you have walked, stairs you have climbed, O2 blood levels and some also measure blood pressure. This varies from model to model.

Calories are usually a calculated number that comes from knowing your weight, gender and running distance.

Some even have built in heart rate monitors or can pair up to sensors you wear on your chest. Training gets more rewarding if you know your maximum heart rate and can adjust your intensity so you don’t train too hard or to slow.

In fact, it is crucial to exercise in optimal heart rate when you are burning fat and you can’t measure that without a heart rate sensor.

More and more new fitness trackers have sleep monitoring that can give you information on how long and well you have slept. And some can wake you silently up in the morning.

How can such Gadgets Help You Achieve your goals?

Next to the motivational factor a training gadget has on your workouts and health; you gather a lot of useful data.

Polar Loop with weblog and app

Polar Loop with weblog and app

The benefits of syncing all this data to a smartphone, tablet or PC is that you can monitor your workouts and see the progress on your training and actually see that it works! That’s awesome and useful.

These apps and programs can give you a lot of advice on how to improve your training and you can get advice from others in online communities.

Some can be used as a nutritional planner where you put in what you eat and drink and get feedback on your calorie intake. Very useful if you are consistent and manage to do it thoroughly.

Wear With Confidence

Modern wearable technology usually comes in three different types. These are Wrist bands, Clip-Ons and Sports Watches.

Wrist bands are either constructed in one flexible piece or they have a clasp like a watch. They are worn around your wrist. Examples units are the Jawbone Up24 or Fitbit Flex.

Clip-ons are smaller devices like the Fitbit Zip or Misfit Flash. They are easier to conceal and can be fastened to shoes, bra’s, belt or your pocket.

Sport Watches have the traditional look most people think of when it comes to wearable training gadgets. They come with all sorts of functionality like GPS and Heart Rate Monitor.

Mishit Shine

The nice Misfit Shine

Since some fitness trackers are designed to be worn all day it’s important to feel comfortable with wearing it at all times. You have to look at your own day and determine if you think you can wear a very flashy colorful wristband on your work for instance. I usually tend to go for black or neutral colors. Misfit Shine is an example of a tracker that has the looks of a piece of jewelry and can be worn in both parties and during workouts.

Wearable technology can look great be an icebreaker in social settings. People tend to want to know more about these fancy devices and how they can improve their life.

How To Choose The Right Device

There are so many different kinds of training gadgets that searching for tips on what is the best activity tracker device can be difficult. You need to read reviews and make up your own opinion which one is best for your use. There are a ton of reviews online and many on this page as well. Ask for advice among professional users on what they think is the best activity tracker device.

It is important to consider if you need the unit to be waterproof for instance. Many people use their device for swimming.

There are many units that are great for beginners that don’t cost a fortune like Fitbit Zip or Polar Loop. If you have no experience with gadgets like this I think you will be amazed with how cool it is to get statistics on your daily movements and see that your training pay off.

In the end, it all comes down to what fits you best and you have to decide for yourself.

Do You See The Benefits?

So …

Ask yourself the question again; “Do I really need an activity tracker”?

I hope I have given you some ideas on the benefits of wearable technology and how it can improve your health and make it easier for you to be motivated for moving more. But even with a device like this you need to eat correctly and you need to exercise. These bands will not do it for you.

A healthy body is a happy body!

Read more about more awesome fitness trackers here and good luck choosing. 🙂

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