Fitness technology, like fitness trackers, can help you reach your goals, such as getting fit and healthy or losing weight – provided your goal is realistic and attainable. The devices today can measure steps, monitor heart rate, estimate calories consumed and burned, monitor exercise activity as well as your sleep patterns.
They usually come in two different types. One type gives you information from a digital display right on the device, while others may give you a few lights representing how close you are to your step goal for that day, but require an app on your smartphone to drill down into the specifics. FitBit, Jawbone, Nike and Garmin are leaders in the industry with each company offering several models that vary as far as what they monitor.
But just the act of wearing a device on your wrist alone will not get you to goal. Some people are misled in thinking this, however, all fitness trackers do is to increase your awareness of your activity (or lack thereof) during the day or how well you sleep at night. How you use that information is what helps you make progress toward your goal.
For example, you may have a goal of walking 10,000 steps per day, but without a device to measure how many steps you take, you don’t really know how close you are to your daily goal. A fitness tracker will not only keep track of those steps, but some, like the new FitBit Charge 2, breaks down your goal by the number of hours you want it to track in a day and vibrates if you have not met that intermediate goal of a certain number of steps for that hour. That reminder helps make you aware that you are not meeting your hourly goal and need to get in more steps.
If you use the calorie counter feature that many fitness trackers have, you can see how many calories you are consuming in a day; most of them automatically track how many calories you are burning. Most people underestimate how many calories they consume and have no idea how many they burn; consuming more than you burn leads to weight gain; burning the same as consumed keeps you weighing the same; burning more than consumed leads to weight loss.
Sleep monitoring is an important feature also. When asleep, your body uses this time to repair the microtears in muscle caused from exercising. In doing so, the muscle becomes bigger and stronger. Not getting enough sleep interrupts this healing process, thus hindering reaching a fitness goal of building more muscle.
Not getting enough sleep can also hinder weight loss progress by affecting two hormones that tell you when you are full and when it is time to eat. When sleep-deprived, your body makes more ghrelin which in turn makes you hungry. It also makes less of the hormone leptin, which tells you when you are full. Because of these two hormonal imbalances caused by getting too little sleep, it leads to overeating.
While the act itself of wearing a fitness tracker will not help you reach your goal, committing to using the information it provides to make changes and adjustments to your exercise and eating habits will get you on the road toward your goal. Knowledge is power. With the data at your fingertips, you can make smarter changes and reach your goal.