Are Fitness Trackers Helpful or Hype?

July 30th, 2014

Health and Fitness trackers can be seen everywhere these days; whether it’s being used by a new mum on her way to yoga or an office worker on his way to a meeting about Swap Rates, these trendy trackers look sleek and they offer something that we all need from time-to-time: motivation.

These trackers are not just pedometers or running watches. They quantify your workout in an all-encompassing place by tracking calories burned, how many minutes you sit without getting up, how many steps you take, how many minutes of intense activity you had, etc. But the question is, does seeing these numbers mean anything? Will they result in a lifestyle change that leads to happier and healthier lives?

Gather Information

For a lot of people, fitness trackers are a valuable source of information about their daily habits and movements. It might not be used to reach fitness goals but rather gives you data about daily patterns. They are the equivalent of a clearing house for global finance; a third party that receives and records Interest Rate Swap data so that the proper and secure decisions can be made in the future.  For sedentary people who spend 9-5 behind a desk (such as those who deal with Credit Default Swaps and the Derivatives Market), 1-hour commuting and then the evening sitting around a pub or in front of the telly, seeing this data can be a look into the reality that they’re not moving nearly enough.

Motivation

Different people are motivated by different things but with so many fitness trackers on the market, it’s difficult to not find way the resonates with your inner motivation. For some people, just having the tracker on their body can be enough motivation but some people are motivated by the data. They constantly want to see their steps taken increase or their calories burned improved. For other people it’s a goal that motivates them such as the desire to look their best at an upcoming wedding. By determining what ignites motivation you can determine what fitness tracker is best for you – or if you’d benefit from one at all.

Fitness trackers have been particularly effective at motivating people in groups suggesting their powers peak when they utilise peer pressure. When CEO of the SSG software company offered his employees an incentive to purchase and use a fitness tracker, he was surprised by what he saw: dozens of people standing up in the middle of the day and going for outdoor walks around the building. The fitness tracker gets people involved with other people providing them with that social support and accountability that they might need to stay motivated.

Why Fitness Trackers Work

Fitness trackers are only going to get you so far. It’s not the device itself that helps you lose weight or change sedentary behaviour that is up to the individual. But for people who are motivated by numbers and data, these smart trackers can be the motivational tool that finally helps you track and reach your goals.

However, before you start tracking it’s important to remember that:

  • They are not exact. Brands have gone to great lengths to ensure accuracy but there is still room for error. For example, they don’t always record low impact exercises such as cycling on a stationary bike.
  • Having a fitness tracker is not a fitness guarantee. You should use them to measure progress, activity and stick to goals but do not expect to melt the weight off because you put a band on.
  • Don’t overexert yourself. Exercise and fitness can be addicting. If you discover that you are prioritizing workouts and your tracker above everything else, or you are frequently getting overuse injuries then let your body recover.

The key to every fitness regime is finding something that helps you stay motivated for long-term goals. If that is a fitness tracker then make sure that you find one that best aligns with your goals and remember to keep your workouts and competition as healthy as your new lifestyle.

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