Fitness trackers and wearable health tech are dominating the fitness world, and for good reason. However, according to some research, using fitness trackers to actually make a real difference in your health isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Research on the effectiveness of sleep, step and calorie trackers is mixed. While you might get super into your new gadget for a few months, several studies have shown that it doesn’t make a significant difference in your long-term health. But despite the mixed evidence, surveys also show that a lot of us feel guilty for ditching them. What gives?
A tracker’s effectiveness “really depends on the individual,” says Noam Tamir, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of TS Fitness in New York City. “For people who are new to fitness, using a tracker can be beneficial because it not only helps keep your goals top of mind and reminds you to stay active, but it also can make things more fun and competitive.”
To get the most out of your health tracker, try these four strategies:
1. GET COMPETITIVE
Whether or not you’re new to fitness, follow Tamir’s advice and use your tracker to get a little competitive — even if it’s just with yourself. The great thing about having daily health data at your fingertips is that you have access to a real-time report card of your health. Set a goal for weekly gains — whether that’s hours slept or steps taken — and push yourself to beat last week’s totals.
2. SET REMINDERS
If you tend to be sedentary (aka if you have a desk job), trackers can be hugely helpful in reminding you to get up and move throughout the day. Choose a tracker with a vibration setting that will nudge you when you’ve been inactive for too long.
3. CHANNEL YOUR INNER NERD
If you’re not a numbers person, don’t be intimidated by the data. Most fitness trackers offer easy-to-read charts and graphs that will appeal to even the most hardcore numbers haters. Take advantage of them to set the smartest goals. “You want to build yourself up,” says Tamir. “If you’re super sedentary and you suddenly want to get 15,000 steps a day, you’re kind of setting yourself up to be a bit disappointed.” Instead of trying to hit crazy data spikes, aim for more gradual increases.
4. SHARE YOUR RESULTS
When you hit a goal, share it. Many trackers and gadgets are super easy to link to social media, and getting positive reinforcement from your friends may make you more likely to keep pushing yourself to reach the next level of your fitness game. Consider this your excuse to brag when you hit 10,000 steps by noon.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT