Just how beneficial is activity tracking?

For as long as I can remember, health advocates have been telling us to move more. But just how much more of this is needed? And can tracking your activity help you achieve such goal?

There is now a multitude of activity monitoring devices on the market that promise to answer that exact question. Generally, these digital trackers record your movements, calories burned and how many steps you take throughout the day. Though some aim to do a great deal more than just that! As you may already know, activity trackers can be worn around the wrist, on collars, belts clothing and even as jewellery.

 

FitBit SurgeThe Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch is currently one of the most popular, out of several on the market. And being my personal favourite, gets a special mention in this post. I fell in love with the large display and ability to monitor heart rate (which is very important when it comes to accurately measuring how many calories you’ve burned during a workout)
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Activity trackers typically merge with a website or smartphone app where viewing the dating collected about your movements is possible. The goal is to measure the steps you took from the car park lot to your office, track how much sedentary downtime you get when at work or in front of the television, bursts of intense exercise and even your sleep habits — all to create a complete and accurate picture of your both least and most healthful behaviours. This is very helpful when it comes to figuring out how you can improve. Some models also offer some great tips and set incentive goals based on your data.

But are fitness and activity trackers even worth it?

In short, when it comes to trying to lose weight or increasing your fitness levels, tracking is definitely beneficial.

You can also set certain step goals which makes you more inclined to move around more in order to reach them. Comparing the 10,000 steps normally walked on weekends to the 4000 or 5000 on a typical workday made me compete against myself and try to move more during days with less steps. So they definitely help keep you more active!

Most activity trackers are able to estimate the length and quality of sleep by sensing your movements throughout the night. We all know how important it is to get a good nights rest! Polar and Garmin also make trackers that pair with chest straps in order to record your heart rate during exercise – while-as the Fitbit Surge is able to monitor this without the need for such straps.

As of yet, even the best tracker out there cannot recognise every single movement. As I sit here typing this, my leg is tapping along to music and my arms are somewhat motionless. My activity tracker doesn’t even seem to notice that I’m getting at least some exercise via fidgeting — and therefore it will not be reflected in the calorie counts displayed. That’s actually too bad, because research suggests that an inclination to fidget is one of the reasons that lean people stay lean.

Though despite the occasional lack of recording, I found using an activity tracker very useful when it came to losing weight. Calories in vs calories out is one of the crucial factors when it comes to dropping dress sizes. Being able to track how much I burned each day allowed me to accurately adjust my calorie intake – and therefore, lost 35 pounds effectively. You can read on about my own weight loss journey here.

Can trackers really change behavior in people?

In 2013, Dr Rajani Larocca, a primary care physician from Massachusetts General Hospital, conducted a six-week lifestyle program for 10 patients with diabetes ages 50 to 70 that included weekly sessions to encourage exercise and healthful eating; each participant was also outfitted with a Fitbit Zip tracker.

 

  Every single person in the group increased their activity and people generally felt more knowledgeable – Larocca said

 

Eight months later, roughly half of the participants in the group were still wearing their trackers. This goes to show that these devices can indeed create long-term habits – thus enormously aiding you with your fitness, health or weight loss goals.

Fitness trackers are more than hype!

In my opinion, sleep tracking is one of the more interesting aspects of the newer and more sophisticated activity tracking devices. Finding ways to improve sleep habits could in fact be a game changer when it comes to your life and relationships — just as much as staying active throughout the day.

Wearing a tracker is usually comfortable, easily disguisable, low impact and there’s nothing lost other than the money originally spent on the device – which really isn’t that much when it comes to investing in your health.

I wouldn’t say that every single person should be wearing a fitness tracker. But honestly, if you have any curiosity or desire to get more active on a daily basis (which I’m assuming you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be on my blog), I would say that you’re a perfect candidate to give it a shot!

If you have any experiences with or opinions on the different activity trackers available – or simply want to ask a question, drop a comment below!


 

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5 Comments on "Just how beneficial is activity tracking?"

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Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy
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What I like about my Garmin Vivoactive is the fact that it reminds me to move when I’ve been sitting a while. I really don’t worry too much about the whole 10,000 steps a day thing — often on a run day I’ll get 20,000 or more — but other days I might only get 8 or 9k and I don’t push myself to get the magic number. It’s about balance over time, not killing yourself every day!

But it’s definitely important to get that nudge to move a little more throughout the day.

Alicia
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I’ve wanted a fitbit for some time now. For the most part, I’ve just been interested in tracking my sleep and steps; I walk my dogs daily, and I’m interested to see how many steps I’m really getting in. Now that I’m beginning to exercise, I think it might be especially useful, but only so useful with an activity like mine, such as yoga. I might go with the HR if I get one. Do you think trackers are just as helpful to someone who isn’t trying to lose weight? Or is it just extra?
-Alicia https://shavasanachic.wordpress.com/

Derek
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Morning! Great blog and it has helped to give me further food for thought on whether to get a fitness tracker or to buy a Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 which has the capacity to monitor my activity level/heart rate etc. There isn’t a great deal of difference in costs and I remain undecided. I have used an activity tracker previously and really enjoyed the sleep monitoring aspect of the device. Decisions, decisions, decisions!

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