I am not normally much of a tech guy, but I have always used a heart rate monitor to help track my exercise intensity etc. Understanding how my body responds to the different stresses I apply to it helps me refine/progress my exercise routines. It also alerts me when I am pushing myself too hard, or when my body is under duress i.e. from a cold and I need to rest. However, I exercise because I inherently enjoy doing it. I have never felt the need to utilize the functions available on more expensive monitors to spur me on to go harder, faster, or further.
So, when it came time to replace my old heart rate monitor I was all prepared to go out and buy a new version of the same old model I have always used. Two separate events changed my mind.
The first event involved a client that I had instructed in a postural correction exercise that needed to be done 5-10 times/day. If you work full time you can appreciate how difficult it is to get this done. Life/work gets in the way. What she had done is program her fitness tracker to vibrate every hour to remind her to do her routine. Interesting!
The second event involved my own kids, who are definitely technophiles. They both use the Fitbit Flex Wireless to track their activities throughout the day, and espoused its merits. What appealed to be most was not just how the app allowed you to track your activities, but how it allowed you to create a community (my family) to help keep you involved and motivated. After reviewing their different features I purchased a Fitbit Charge HR because it met my specific needs and criteria.
About a week later I did not make the 10,000 steps that is the daily goal that I have set for myself. No big deal! The next day however I noticed towards the end of my work day, the number stood a little over 8500. I was not going to allow myself to miss my 10,000 steps goal, two days in a row. (I was not going to let my kids outdo me either). So while my wife had another 15 minutes to go before finishing work, I hoped on the treadmill and walked another mile.
My wife just shook her head and laughed at me. She said I was Fitbitten
If you are considering getting yourself a fitness tracker then here are some things to consider when picking the right one for you:
1) What is your budget? You can get a tracker for under $50.00 but it will not do much more than track your steps, quantify your activity level, and possibly track your sleep. Between $50-150.00 you start to get some pretty impressive features such as bigger/better displays, heart rate monitoring, and wireless syncing. Above $150 you start to get features such as GPS etc. but in my opinion are not what the majority of users need in a tracker.
2) What style of tracker do you intend to use? You can choose between a clip on, a bracelet, or a watch style. Clip on style tend to be less conspicuous when worn on a belt or bra. However they tend to display less information on their screen, are easier to lose, and you have to remember to remove them from your clothing before doing your laundry. Bracelets and watch styles are more secure, but may get in the way when doing some daily activities such as laundry, or computer work. Fitness trackers only work if you are wearing them, so if you don’t like wearing a watch 24/7 or are very fashion conscious, then these styles may not be the best choice.
3) What is your goal? Just want to keep track of the number of steps you are taking; then keep it simple. Has your doctor advised you to lose weight, or that your resting heart rate is too high? Then maybe a higher end unit that gives you 24/7 heart rate monitoring, and tracks your calorie output/input is a better choice (see how many miles in that muffin).
4) Does your tracker have an app/community? The app is vital to the experience of having a tracker. It is where you make sense of all the info you have gathered. It also allows you to record important related info that a tracker cannot such as allergies, blood pressure, fluid intake etc. Whatever your fitness goals are, you are more likely to be successful if you have a community (family etc.) to support you. As I mentioned about the client that had programmed her tracker to vibrate when it was time to do her exercises, your tracker can both hold you responsible for your activity and help keep you on track when life gets busy.
5) What features do you need/want? My number one priority was to get a heart rate monitor, and secondarily to have it function as a watch. A heart rate monitor increases the cost, and if your health is good and the only activity you will be participating in is walking, then this function is not really necessary.
6) Do you need a sport specific tracker? Runners often want to track time, distance run, pacing etc. so may want a built in GPS function. Swimmers will want a waterproof (not water resistant) tracker that is actually designed to track swimming. Serious cyclists may want a device that tracks their cadence or power output, or pairs with other devices.
7) Smartwatch vs Fitness tracker? Many fitness trackers have some smartwatch functionality, and vice versa. Fitness trackers put fitness first!
If you have any questions please contact me and I will do my best to answer them.
Watch for future posts, so that you can truly live a healthful and active life.
To your pain-free health,