Using Activity Trackers Effectively
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Using Activity Trackers Effectively

My hubby received a Fitbit from work since the Human Resources Department decided their employees needed to get their weight and health under control to keep insurance premiums down. There are teams competing against each other. He liked his, so he told me to pick one up and try it. So, now I have a spiffy purple Fitbit Charge HR to match my cellphone case. They are pretty nifty, but they also have some drawbacks, if you don't know how to use one effectively.

When my hubby and I went cycling on the bike trail the other evening, I noticed my tracker said my heart rate was 88 beats per minute when I was working hard enough to have my heart rate in the 130s. UGH! His didn't record his exercise a week ago. Boy, was he not happy! I decided to use Map My Run app in conjunction with my Fitbit to make sure I knew the actual time, mileage, and estimated calorie burn for myself. I'm glad I did! It has been very helpful to show what is happening when I am doing work in the yard and garden and for him when he is working on the house. Also, I appreciate tracking my sleep patterns because of fibro. I've discovered some interesting benefits and shortcomings of activity trackers.

Activity Trackers come from several companies, in a variety of styles, and can be very simple to quite complex in the information they track for you.  The first one I had was a MovBand the gym I last worked used for different exercise classes and group personal training weight loss groups. It recorded all movement, not just steps. In all honesty, the suggested retail was way over the $30 each the gym charged later just to get rid of them. Fitbit is probably the most well-known brand with several levels of activity trackers. Others include Garmin Vivofit, Jawbone Up , Nike Fuel Band, and many off-brands are out there stating they will help you get fit.
Picture from Walmart.com.

I see a lot of activity trackers on people's wrists nowadays. How well do they work? They have a lot of positive perks, depending on their features:

  1. Brings attention to actual activity level of the individual.
  2. A great incentive for people to reach 10,000 steps, which is recommended by the American Heart Association for good heart health.
  3. Shows resting and active heart rates, sleep patterns, and calories burned
  4. Places for recording caloric intake and weight, body fat %

There is a downside:

  1. People rarely get into the aerobic phase without a determined effort
  2. It does not encourage weight training or record it separately
  3. There is no Notes Section to record things such as illness, travel, or mood.
  4. It will only help with weight loss if the person either does a fat burn zone for 2 or more hours consecutively or gets into the cardio zone for 30-60 minutes at a time.
  5. It will not change people's need for blood pressure, cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes medications without an exercise program.
  6. It does not replace the need for guided exercise instruction from a certified health and fitness professional.
  7. You can sit and wave arm with tracker to record more steps.
  8. Sometimes, it does not accurately record your heart rate or your activity because of sweat and dirt build up on the sensor against your arm.
  9. It isn't as valuable for people with serious health conditions and limitations, unless doctor recommended.
  10. If you "friend" someone on social media who also has one, they and all of their other contacts with one can see your information unless you change your settings.

The best way to get the value of these great pieces of technology is to be very deliberate in using all of it's features. You can do this by:

  • Work with your medical provider regarding your health and fitness needs
  • See a personal trainer for a few sessions to get you off to a good start, if you have never exercised or if you haven't exercises for a long period of time.
  • Input your weight and body fat% daily.
  • Input your caloric intake daily.
  • set your own daily exercise goals to include full cardio and weight training workouts (see Heart Rate Training and Burn, Baby, Burn).
  • Keep a journal of the items important to your health that your activity tracker does not record.
  • Take advantage of the app and website that is designed for your activity tracker.
  • Have a regular check up with your personal trainer every 3-6 months to keep your body challenged to meet your health and fitness goals.

All in all, activity trackers can be helpful tools when used effectively combined with a healthy, lower calorie diet. I'd love to hear about your experience with your activity tracker. What do you think about them?

May God bless you!

1 Comment to Using Activity Trackers Effectively:

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Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Treatments on Thursday, July 28, 2016 7:28 AM
Nice blog post on the body and the health.I like to follow your tips and suggestions to become fit and healthy.Thanks a lot for posting.
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