Fitness gadgets have been around for awhile now, from pedometers, to heart rate monitors and now the latest accessory everyone seems to be sporting on their wrist is the fitness tracker. Popular brands of fitness trackers are Fitbit, Jawbone Up and Nike FuelBand, however there are many other brands on the market.
Usually they have a sensor that goes in your pocket, clips on clothing or a in a band around your wrist. They can track steps, distance travelled, calories burned & some track sleep patterns. The sensor uploads the data online or to an app.
Passively using a tracker won’t automatically boost your fitness or overall health. These devices give you a lot of data but you need to know what to do with it. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your device.
If just starting out, use it for a week by just going about your normal routine to establish a baseline. From there, you can look at where you can make changes to increase your daily activity.
The Australian Heart Foundation suggests that 10,000 steps per day is an optimal target for healthy adults. Fitness trackers are a great way to track towards this target, but if just starting out, it is best to slowly work your way up to it by increasing the daily step count by 10 percent each week. For example, you could take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further from work, get off at an earlier bus stop, etc. However, unless you have a very active job, you’re not going to reach the 10,000 steps without putting in a concerted effort to incorporate exercise in your day. Read about one person's efforts to reach 10,000 steps.
So a fitness tracker is not going to automatically increase your activity, but it is a tool for understanding your behaviours, which you can then use as incentive to change your behaviour and set measurable goals. Combining a fitness tracker with goals such as walking 10,000 steps, has the potential to make you more motivated and more able to maintain or increase your physical activity.
As with all technology, the fitness trackers are constantly being upgraded with newer, smarter, shinier models. If you’re in the market for a fitness tracker, you can check online reviews here and here, to help you find the model that suits your needs.
Congratulations to the two USC staff members who won fitbits at our recent staff expo!