The entrance of the Apple Watch into the wearable gadget market has generated a lot of buzz about how we can use technology to track our fitness. There’s no shortage of fitness trackers out there on the market, and choosing a personal fitness-tracking device can be pretty overwhelming. FastMed reviews the features of fitness trackers, so you can wade through the confusion and get moving!
You don’t want to have to spend hours after your workout trying to figure out what all the data means. Any fitness-tracking device you purchase should deliver the results of your workout or daily activities in an easy-to-read format. You’ll want to see your heart rate during a workout, the number of steps you’ve taken, and the calories you’ve burned. The best fitness trackers will allow you to access these graphs and charts via your phone, computer, and the device itself.
Some fitness trackers let you set goals, and show you how close you are to reaching them throughout the day. This can be especially motivating; instead of just seeing how many steps you’ve taken, you can see if you’ve almost met your goal – or if you need to ‘step it up!’
GPS and Accelerometer
If you’re a runner, biker, or cardio buff of any kind, look for a fitness tracker with a GPS. There’s no more reliable way to track your distances. Many GPS’s can suck the battery life out of fitness trackers, so check reviews online to choose a device that has a lot of juice, even when the GPS is turned on. An accelerometer is a fun tool to have, as well. This will measure your speed, so you can tell how swiftly you’re moving. It’s not a substitute for a GPS, but it enhances its capabilities.
Alarms, warnings, congratulatory bells and whistles…how on top of things do you want your wearable fitness tracker to be? One of the most useful features for people who work at a desk all day is a movement reminder. If the fitness tracker thinks you haven’t moved in a certain amount of time – say, thirty minutes or an hour – it will vibrate to let you know that it’s time to stand up and take a quick break. Prolonged periods of inactivity are linked to all kinds of health problems, including heart disease, which the American Heart Association reports is the leading cause of death worldwide. And these effects are seen even if you exercise for several hours a day. So look for a fitness tracker that will give you a gentle nudge when you’ve been vegging for too long, and pay attention to these alerts.
Heart Rate Sensor
If you want to accurately track how many calories you’re burning, a heart rate monitor is a must. There are a few different ways to use a heart rate monitor with a wearable fitness tracker. Some devices don’t have a built-in monitor, so you’ll have to purchase an external monitor that wirelessly syncs with your device. The monitor fits like a belt that you wear just below your chest.
External monitors are the most accurate way to measure heart rate, but if you find the band uncomfortable or restrictive, buy a fitness tracker with a built-in heart rate sensor. These trackers use light to measure the frequency with which your blood pumps through the veins in your wrist. Avoid watches that require you to touch your finger to a pad to analyze your pulse; although they are more accurate, it interrupts your workout. Heart-rate monitors aren’t reviewed by the FDA, so do some thorough research and read reviews about the model you’re interested in before you purchase.
Some fitness trackers act as phones, too. You may be able to get notifications of calls or messages via Bluetooth if your phone is compatible with the tracking device. Of course, if you’re working out, you should really put your heart, soul, and muscle into it – not worry about the latest Facebook updates. But some people have to be connected for work or family, so they may want a tracker that works with their phone. Wireless syncing is also a very handy feature. Plugging your device into your computer each time you work out can be annoying, and who wants to deal with extra cords?
So, there you have it: fitness tracking features to help you reach your movement and exercise goals. Even if you aren’t an intense athlete, or the only time you run is if you are running late, a fitness tracker can help keep you aware of how much you’re walking around and moving each day. At FastMed, we see patients every day who have diabetes, aching joints, or low energy because they’re overweight. Be proactive with your health. You’ve only got one body in this life, so take good care of it!