Take a look around you the next time you visit the Y, and chances are you will see a lot more people wearing some sort of fitness tracker than you would have noticed a few years ago. Whether they’re being worn on the wrist, hip, or gym shoe it has definitely become a recent fad to track daily steps and calories burned electronically.
But do these devices even work? How do you decide if you even need one, or which one is the best for your fitness plan?
In this blog the YMCA staff attempts to dive deep into the benefits of fitness trackers and what the best products on the market are that will get you the best bang for your buck.
Six benefits your fitness tracker can provide:
Motivation: This is the primary goal of purchasing a fitness tracker. Wearing a device on your body serves as a constant reminder of how sedentary our lives have become and just how inactive we are. By purchasing a fitness tracker you are committing to achieve some sort of fitness goal, and the purpose of the product is to ensure that you reach that goal.
Accountability: Most fitness trackers count measurements such as number of steps, calories burned, or distance traveled over the course of a day. Users can set their own individualized goals, and then the fitness tracker will notify them when goals are met. This not only provides a sense of satisfaction when you reach 10,000 steps in one day or burn 500 calories, but it also holds you accountable for when you don’t reach these goals. The point of this accountability is to make exercise become a consistent and habitual event in your life.
Workout planning: Everyone has a goal in mind when they decide to exercise. Whether you want to lose 20 pounds, build muscle mass, train for a marathon, or just lead a healthy lifestyle, you need a schedule to achieve these goals. Fitness trackers can be the structure you need to begin the planning process. When you set your individualized goals, they can be continually increased depending on the type of progress you want to make. Not only will this make your goals more attainable, but it will also make it easier to track your progress!
Shows progress: Sometimes progress can be slow and hard to see. This is discouraging for many who work out consistently and are trying to see improvements. Fitness trackers can show you how much you’ve progressed and how far you still need to go in the form of data and numbers. Measuring your fitness progress has never been easier!
Understanding your body: As mentioned above, sometimes its hard to see just how sedentary our daily lives are. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day leaves little room for physical activity, but fitness trackers draw attention to this deficiency and bring it to the forefront of our minds. Setting personal goals by using your fitness tracker will help you realize just what your body is capable of achieving.
Online tracking: Most fitness trackers come with online ways to record your activity. They compile extensive amounts of health information and statistics from experts that will help you make informed decisions about your exercise plans. You can also compare your daily activities with your friends who have fitness trackers, and challenge each other and hold yourselves accountable for reaching your daily fitness goals.
The Top Three Favorite Fitness Trackers:
- Fitbit Zip
Pros: This small and relatively inexpensive fitness tracker does all the essentials for the basic exercise planner. It counts your steps, miles walked, and calories burned. It comes in a variety of fun colors and can be easily attached to the waist of your shorts. Users are also able to sync it to their Fitbit web account to track their progress
Cons: The display on this device is slightly boring and doesn’t provide any extra data for users. It also runs on batteries, which will eventually need to be replaced.
- Nike + Fuelband SE
Pros: PC Mag described this device as having a “sporty, sturdy, and comfortable design.” It is much more advanced and aesthetically pleasing than our #3 pick. It tracks measurements such as time, steps, calories, and displays the users “fuel” with visually appealing LED lights. It also has more technology advancements such as bluetooth connections, group features, and allows for isolation of individual activities.
Cons: This fitness tracker is much more expensive and is still lacking some key measurements such as distance, heart rate, stairs climbed, and others.
- Fitbit Flex
Pros: This fitness trackers is by far and away our favorite, because it provides the most measurements for the best price. It counts steps, calories, distance, stairs climbed, and time, and simply displays how close you are to reaching your goal with five blinking lights. It can be worn in multiple places (wrist, belt, pocket, etc.). It syncs well with your smartphone and has an overall excellent web experience.
Cons: The only negative aspect of this is the limited display, which doesn’t provide enough information for some users. But overall, this is a great product and provides the best bang for your buck.
Still not sold on fitness trackers?
That’s perfectly okay, fitness trackers are definitely not for everyone. The important thing is that you are tracking your workout experience and holding yourself accountable to reaching your workout goals. This can be achieved a variety of other ways that don’t involve purchasing technology to help you do it.
- If you’re looking for other alternatives, we suggest you bring a journal to log your exercise activities. This is another great way to see your constant progress over a long period of time.
- Bringing a buddy with you to the Y is also a great way to hold yourself accountable. Workout with someone else helps keep your motivation high and makes you accountable to someone else if you decide to skip out on the gym.
Overall, there are many ways to record your exercise progress and we encourage you to go with the method that keeps you most accountable, motivated and successful!