Are Fitness Trackers Effective?


runner wearing fitness tracker, monitoring progress

        In the beginning, fitness trackers left a lot to be desired. Technological advancements have improved them, and today’s models can be pretty handy gadgets. There also tons of apps to track your progress as well as good old pen and paper. Tracking and periodically evaluating your progress should be a central element of your health plan.

Fitness on the Run

        Electronic fitness trackers are designed to wear on your wrist and go where you go. They record your physical effort and vital signs. Of course, you almost always get what you pay for. The more tabs it keeps on your health, the more your bank account may suffer. Weigh the investment against the benefits it may provide for your personal health program.

♦    Fitness trackers can measure your blood oxygen levels.

♦    They allow you to record your overall mass and weight.

♦    Some of these gadgets can measure your heart rate and body temperature.

♦    Fitness trackers can keep tabs on the number of steps you take and the level of effort you put forth during activity.

♦    Some also record your dietary intake, allow you to set goals, provide reminders, and offer health tips.

man looking at fitness tracker while running        Apps designed to track your progress offer many of the same features. A large number of them may be downloaded for free with a premium option available. You can find them created for Apple, Android, or compatible with both.

        These aren’t quite as high tech and you don’t wear them. An app will not record your vitals while you sleep. Many allow you to record info and provide notifications and offer encouraging tips.

        Most all of these types of tracking gadget companies provide a website for user access. Some provide additional information and library resources. Others offer additional tools and notification settings with access only available online through your desktop.

        Some people do much better going old school. You can simply grab a blank notebook and pencil to begin keeping track of your health goals and progress. Smartphones have apps for note taking and scheduling. It is a good idea to find which works for you and start tracking. This provides you with a physical reference to evaluate and alter your plan as you smash your goals.

Track your Motivation

        One of the most important features fitness trackers offer is motivation. It can be used as a tool for adherence success. You are much more likely to stick to your program in the short term if you’re tracking it. Especially, if you can look back and see how far you’ve come. Your success will still be dependent upon your determination in the long term.

        Remember your tracking method is a tool and not the key to your success. It is important to make the best use of it, but don’t rely on it. Fitness gadgets are much like any other type of technology. It’s bound to run into glitches and can sometimes be prone to error.

        You need to create a comprehensive plan that includes many elements. These range from nutrition and exercise to mental health and taking pause. While everyone’s vision of it is different, play is still an important part of your mental and physical health.

        Don’t neglect your mind. It works just as hard as your body during workouts and often harder while you rest. Keep your health cycle in mind. Promoting one aspect of your it improves all other related components. The opposite is also true and spirals downward much faster than it rises.

Hint: Some programs, apps, and wearable devices allow you to track your mental health and provide tips for improvement.

Tracking as Treatment

        Tracking methods and devices have been successfully used to co-treat many health disorders. Accessible, constant, and accurate information can help your doctor adjust your current treatment. Since keeping tabs improves adherence success rates, you may be more likely to stick to your therapy plan.

phone synced to health and fitness tracker, heart rate        ARENA reviewed an online survey to discover fitness tracker users’ experiences. The durations averaged between 5 to 7 months. The participants believed that tracking helped them increase their physical activity level and improve their diet (1). Many experts are considering using these types of gadgets to co-treat patients suffering from or at risk for heart disease.

        If your diet and activity level are part of your treatment program, fitness trackers can be another excellent addition. People with diabetes can track their sugar levels and carb consumption. Heart patients can follow their physical activity, good fat, and cholesterol numbers.

        Some people find that fitness trackers and apps hinder more than they help. This greatly depends on your lifestyle and personality. If you find it’s too much to deal with, try something else. Some like having a routine that fits in a nice, neat grid. Others may find this suffocating.

        You should eliminate anything from your routine which causes frustration, hassle, and/or setbacks. You should tailor your program to suit you. If it doesn’t work, ditch it. Scales are a popular fitness tool but can give false positives. This is why you rely on numbers from your scale as well as your tape measure. Adding those from your fitness tracker can provide a better picture of your overall progress.

What exactly should you track?

        The items you should track and routinely evaluate depend upon your health goals. You must know what you eat before you can successfully gain weight through increased caloric intake. You obviously won’t know how much fat you’ve lost, if you don’t record your current and future weights. You need to review your lifting weight several weeks ago to determine if your strength training is on point.

        Make a list of your goals and the elements which will help you achieve them. Date every note you take. Schedule a routine time to update your numbers as well as to review and revamp.

 

Cited Sources

1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5688726/