Developing active healthy living habits can feel intimidating and discouraging if you're used to a sedentary lifestyle. Activity trackers take the fear out of improving your health by tracking your day-to-day activity for you so you can understand your habits and make changes personalized to your lifestyle. So whether you want a complete lifestyle overhaul or you just want to lose a few pounds, activity trackers are a great tool for helping you develop healthy living habits.
Activity trackers are much more than glorified pedometers. These devices include complicated motion sensors that record your activity, and then a companion app or software program puts that activity into charts and graphs that help you see where you can make changes. The charts can also show your improvements over time.
Activity trackers are for everyone. You don't have to be a marathon runner or a couch potato to benefit from a personal tracker. However, you'll want an activity tracker that fits the needs of your fitness goals. Avoid devices overloaded with features that you may not use. Too much information can be overwhelming and confusing, leading you to give up on the product. Likewise, too little information will not give a clear enough picture of where you need to improve your active habits. Below are some of the criteria you’ll want to consider, but finding the perfect exercise tracker really depends on your own personal needs and desires.
The basic activities that all fitness trackers should record are steps, distance traveled, calories burned and active minutes. Most also calculate stairs climbed, exercise intensity and quality of sleep. However, the accuracy of a device can vary greatly because they generally base the calculations for activity levels and calories burned on default settings or generic measurements like age, sex, height and weight. Therefore, treat all your recorded data as an approximation and not a precise measurement of your activity.
However, if you're concerned with getting the most accurate picture of your fitness, you'll want a fitness tracker that also records your heart rate, skin temperature and sweat measurements. With these additional sensors, the algorithms consider your body's actual chemistry instead of generic measurements.
Many devices also include features like silent alarms, idleness reminders and displays with daily progress readouts.
To get the best results, you'll want to wear an activity tracker all the time, so choosing a model that's comfortable and stylish or discreet is important. You don't want a fitness band that looks tacky with your wardrobe. If you have a sleep tracker, you don't want a device that's uncomfortable to wear to bed.
Ease of Use
When it comes to using an activity tracker, you don't want the device to be a burden. The best models require as little effort on your behalf as possible. You simply wear it and it does all the work in the background of your daily life. Most devices sync with your smartphone automatically through Bluetooth, taking all the thinking out of the process. The easier the device is to use, the more likely you are to use it consistently.
An activity tracker is little more than an accessory without some type of software that makes sense of the raw data recorded by the device. Every activity tracker comes with either an app or a website that makes sense of your activity with charts and graphs. These programs should be intuitive to navigate, easy to understand and customizable to your diet for a more complete picture of your habits. Some apps will also coach you towards your goals, provide games for achievements and offer tips for improving your diet and the quality of your sleep. Compatibility can be an issue because some apps are only available for either iOS or Android phones, not both.
Whether you’re a marathon runner who wants to keep meticulous records of your fitness and diet or you just want to fit back into your skinny jeans, activity trackers take the intimidation out of changing your day-to-day fitness habits by making every movement count towards a healthier lifestyle.
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