Your Complete Guide to Using a Fitness Tracker

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Thinking of getting your very own fitness tracker? Or perhaps you got one as a Christmas gift but you don’t know how to use it to its full potential?

You’ll be surprised at the many ways fitness trackers or wearables can help you achieve your specific fitness goals and live a healthier lifestyle.

The Benefits of Using a Fitness Tracker
Fitness Tracker

Photo by Vernon Chan / CC BY 2.0

Progress Monitoring

When you’re trying to reach a certain goal—especially if it’s something difficult like a 20-lb. weight loss—it’s easy to lose motivation to keep going. Using overall wellness tracking apps prevents this from happening by updating you how far you’ve come and your possible results in the long run if you stay consistent with your fitness and diet regime. And if you’re already pumped on motivation and you just want to track your progress, the daily automated reports produced by their respective software will keep you updated.

More Effective Training

If you’re into competitive sports like running, swimming, or triathlon, the heart rate monitor that comes built-in or as an optional attachment with some fitness trackers will help you reach and maintain the right heart rate for your target training zone. And if you have a heart condition or disease, it helps you avoid overexerting yourself.

Better Sleep

Due to the hyper connected lifestyle we have today, it can be hard to get some shut-eye. In fact, an estimated 50-70 million U.S. adults have a sleeping or wakefulness problem, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some fitness monitoring devices have a feature to track how light or deep your sleep was throughout the evening. This way, you can make the necessary changes to help you optimize your sleep.

Staying on Top of Your Nutrition

An average human being needs to drink eight glasses of water a day. This doesn’t sound much, but you’ll be surprised at how many of us can’t even drink that much water. Some fitness trackers also have a program that monitors your food and water intake, so you can always keep up with your ideal nutrition.

How a Fitness Tracker Works
Fitness Tracker

Photo by Vernon Chan / CC BY 2.0
Most, if not all, fitness trackers use a 3-axis accelerometer and a gyroscope. The former is used to measure movement while the latter tracks rotation and orientation. The results of these two are then collated and combined with calorie intake and sleep quality, then converted into measures of activity, steps, calories burned, distance ran, or whichever item you chose to track in your device.

Some newer fitness watches have as many as 10 sensors in one device. What does this exactly mean for the consumer? The more sensors your fitness wearable has (especially when strategically positioned), the more accurate its measurement of the patterns of your movement will be. Despite that, it’s better to test these gadgets out for yourself to see which one fits for your needs best regardless of sensor count.

How to Make the Most Out of a Fitness Tracker

Fitness TrackerPhoto by Vernon Chan / CC BY 2.0

1 .Make It a Part of Your Everyday Life

If you’re using a fitness tracker to keep you on track with your goals, it won’t work if you don’t wear it every single time. If you’re just getting into the habit, it’s safer to not take it off until you get used to having it on you all the time. Wearing it all day will also allow you to get a complete overview of your current fitness and activity status, as well as your areas for improvement.

The only exception is when you’re taking a bath. Not all fitness bands are water resistant, and you don’t want your hard-earned dollars to go to waste when your device gets damaged.

2. Be Clear with Your Goals

Set small yet specific short-term goals that are achievable every two weeks or so to keep you inspired. For example, if you’re aiming to finish a 5k race at 27 minutes, make it a goal to increase your pace every two weeks until you’ve reached your target time. Being able to hit small goals like this one will motivate you and prevent you from burning out during training.

3. Connect with Your Friends

Most fitness wearable apps allow you to be updated on the progress of your friends who have similar gadgets. If you have a friend on the network who has a physique, lifestyle, or fitness level that you aspire to reach, try to keep up with or beat what they’re doing. Or you can use this feature to compete with your friends who are at the same point in their fitness journey. That should keep all of you challenged and well-motivated.

4. Log Your Food Intake

Some fitness software or apps compute your daily caloric allowance for you depending on your weight, height, activity level, and goals. If it also has a food logging feature, take advantage of it and input your food intake for the day as well. Having both your fitness and nutrition logs in one place helps the tracker provide you with a better report of your overall fitness standing. Some of these wearables are so high-tech, that they even give fitness tips according to the data you’ve logged in.

Fitness tracking devices or wearables are helpful tools in helping us reach optimum health and achieve a better lifestyle. Since you’re already shelling out a good amount of money for it, why not make the most out of its use by following the tips listed above and knowing how your device works? Making your wearable a part of your everyday life will be much easier.

This article is for educative purposes only and not to be substituted for professional medical advice.

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