Fitness wearables have been a hot trend for several years now, but research shows many people stop using them after the first six months or so. That’s because transforming your fitness routine requires more than just wearing a tracker. You still need internal motivation, and you need to know how to integrate the information from your wearable to enhance your routines.
“Fitness trackers can only measure
what you’re doing; they can’t change
your habits for you.”
Start With the Right Device
Image via Flickr by benwebboz
First, you need a wearable that you’ll actually wear. Your tracker can’t help you if it’s sitting in a drawer. A multifunction wearable device like Samsung or Apple smartwatches has so many useful features, like making calls and alerting you to messages, that it will quickly become part of your life. It’s harder to leave your device in a drawer when it’s integrated with your phone and your daily routines.
Track Heart Rate, Not Calories
Experts agree that trackers aren’t much good at estimating the number of calories you’re burning. According to a recent Stanford study, even the best calorie estimates from wearable devices were off by an average of 27 percent, and the worst were off by as much as 93 percent. If you adjust your calorie intake based on these numbers, you’re likely to be very disappointed with the result.
On the other hand, the same study found that wearables with heart rate monitoring were surprisingly accurate, and those heart rate numbers can be very useful in calculating an accurate caloric burn.
Set Personalized Goals
Your device probably came preprogrammed with goals that have nothing to do with you. Ignore those.
Gather data for a week or two to get a picture of where your personal starting point is, then set goals based on that information. Maybe you’re a retail worker or nurse who walks 20,000 steps a day at work or an office writer who sits all day and barely gets in 2,000 steps. A 10,000 steps per day goal is completely irrelevant in either case.
Set a reasonable daily standard based on your real life and your personal fitness goals. If you walk a lot of steps each day but rarely get your heart rate up, your goal might be to raise your heart rate into a specific zone for 30 minutes each day. If you are almost completely sedentary, your goal might be 5,000 steps.
“It’s up to you to find the motivation
you need and to use the data your
tracker collects in ways that serve
your fitness goals.”
Break Down Your Goals
Moving for just five minutes each hour makes an enormous difference in overall health.Click To Tweet
A daily goal isn’t always helpful. By the time you realize that you’re not going to make it, you may be too tired to care. Therefore, it’s more useful to break your goals into whatever units feel natural in your day. You may have a “before lunch” goal and a “by dinnertime” goal. Morning people might set a “before work” goal. These mini-goals will help you change your habits better than a daily goal would.
Evidence keeps pointing to extended sitting as a major health destroyer. Sitting for several hours a day contributes to mortality from all causes, but especially obesity and heart disease — even among people who work out. Moving for just five minutes each hour makes an enormous difference in overall health.
Set your tracker to remind you to move each hour, then when you get that notification, pop up and do a few stretches, take a walk, get a drink of water, or step outside for a little Vitamin D.
Log What You Eat
Your tracker is only measuring half the equation. The foods you eat are a huge part of your overall fitness, health, and well-being. Sync your wearable with an app that makes food tracking easy so you only have to keep up with one system. Make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need and that you’re not loading up on empty calories or falling prey to emotional eating. Eat to fuel your body.
Fitness trackers can only measure what you’re doing; they can’t change your habits for you. It’s up to you to find the motivation you need and to use the data your tracker collects in ways that serve your fitness goals.
Have you considered adding wearables to your fitness routine?
Which wearables have you used with your fitness routine?
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