Activity trackers have become all the rage in the world lately. With popular eCommerce sites endorsing tracker services around the world, purchasing an activity tracker is easier (and cheaper) than it used to be.
Gone are the days when someone wearing a “Garmin” watch would be considered an endurance athlete. From offices to gymnasium to trekking routes, people are seen sporting their favorite activity trackers.
A common question that arises from this is, are these trackers truly worth it? Is activity data tracking helping people understand their fitness levels better and perhaps even motivating them to perform better? In this article we discuss why getting an activity tracker may be beneficial to you in achieving your fitness goals.
#5 An exact idea of current activity levels
Tracking your fitness data can give you a realistic idea of your activity levels. They provide a means for you to empirically estimate the number the footsteps you have walked. Without a tracker, one may seem inclined to assume that he or she is active enough to be healthy. Getting a tracker can also help you understand what a normal day of activity actually means.
#4 Goal setting
Once you get an idea of your average daily activity, you can set personal goals and be accountable to them. If a normal day involves 5,000 steps, then you can aim for 6000 in the coming weeks. This helps one make incremental progress and set realistic timelines.
#3 Group and team functions
Group activities are always fun. With access to social media one can create innovative challenge and team exercises together. Especially in large enterprises, entire departments can have goals like “walk to Kashmir” or do a team marathon which may involve collecting enough footsteps as a team to achieve a certain goal. Teamwork and group functions have shown to improve activity levels by adding a social aspect to getting active. An activity tracker usually comes with its own app that syncs with social networks. So get an activity tracker or get left out.
#2 Sleep tracking!
When was the last time you told your boss you didn’t get enough sleep? With activity trackers you can now prove it. The newer models of trackers now come with sleep monitors that enable you to understand your sleep patterns more. They can give detailed graphs of how restless you were and how many times you were awake. Sleep is an integral part of personal fitness. Sleep deprivation has been linked to lowered athletic performance and recovery as well and weight gain and lower metabolism (2).
#1 Everyone has one!
Activity tracker sales are through growing at an unprecedented rate. With the wearable market growing 197% according to an IDC report in 2015 (1.).
How to select the right one for you
There are a number of factors that need to be considered when purchasing an activity tracker. Depending on goals, current fitness levels and overall features. One may be tempted to go straight for the best but some product may have features that are specifically tailored towards a certain type of athlete. We are going to list the most common features in activity trackers and try to provide information as to whom it is designed for.
#5 GPS watches
GPS watches made by manufacturers like Garmin are more accurate in tracking distance and time taken to travel there. Regular activity monitors without GPS tend to be give inaccurate data. If you’re an aspiring endurance athlete or run / cycle long distances a GPS watch comes in handy.
#4 Water proof
This one’s self-explanatory. If you’re interested in swimming and water sports like water polo or just a general water loving person than this one’s for you.
#3 Heart rate monitors
There has been a lot of debate over heart rate monitors. From being intrusive to accuracy problems. Some of the latest ones that have heart rate monitors can be a useful tool. They are like permanent ECGs on you and knowing your resting heart rate can help in analyzing any cardiovascular performance. A lower rest heart rate indicates good heart health.
#2 Clip on or carry around
Some people experience discomfort wearing a band on their hands. Clip on activity trackers provide the convenience of them hanging from your clothes and thus are not very intrusive. The limitations of these are obvious, they cannot be used during strenuous exercises as they may fall off.
#1 Trackers with large displays
Since apple launched its apple watch, many activity trackers have been racing to provide watches with a number of features. FitBit recently launched the Blaze which can read email, answer calls, track various activities like running, cycling, and pilates etc. Large displays work if your workout is very specific and know exactly how data tracking can be used. Screen also have their disadvantages as they can be a constant distraction and may also be fragile.
There are a few more reasons why one should be interested in an activity tracker. But the most important reason to get it is… ITS FUN!
- Worldwide Wearables Market Soars in the Third Quarter as Chinese Vendors Challenge the Market Leaders, IDC 2015
- Patel, S. R. and Hu, F. B. (2008), Short Sleep Duration and Weight Gain: A Systematic Review. Obesity, 16: 643–653. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.118