Top Fitness Wearables. What you should know before you buy
Fitness trackers are a new addition to the active lifestyle and have proved to be a valuable technology in helping to measure performance levels and improve overall fitness. They do a good job by eliminating the guesswork and provide accurate data on calories burnt (my favourite bit), heart rate, training intensity and distance ( I feel like I need a break already).
With so many fitness wearable devices being introduced to the market it can become a bit of chore to choose the right one for your fitness needs. Lets break it down for you…..
Fitness trackers record and measure exercise information such as the distance that you’ve run or cycled, calories burnt, heart rate per minute (on certain models) and any other details that are relevant to the exercise and fitness activity. This data will be recorded according to the details that are entered into the device such as age, weight and gender to give you, the user, a personalised experience.
Hard work, Great Results!
Remember to put in the hard work when you get your device and stick to your goals. Your tracker will measure your data throughout the week and display the information via a phone application or your computer. This data will help you see where you’re making a difference (my favourite bit) and areas that could potentially be improvement.
Fitness trackers are normally worn around the wrist or ankle and have a number of features other than just counting your steps. Earlier I mentioned that the device provides exercise information, such as calories burnt. Your exercise intensity will determine how much calories that are burnt per session and, in turn, will define the rate in which you lose weight (if that’s your goal).
The devices have an on-board pedometer that registers your body’s motion as it moves up and down when you walk, jog or run and it calculates each up-down movement as a step. These movements all add up and are stored on the devices memory and are used, along with your heart rate data, to calculate your calories.
HOW ACCURATE ARE THEY?
To check the accuracy of your chosen fitness device it would be a good idea to perform a simple test to see if its calculating the actual amount of steps that you are doing. This can simply be done by switching on the device and then walking a specified amount of steps (for example, 30 steps) and then checking to see how many steps the device has recorded. An acceptable reading would be anything between 28 and 31 steps.
The devices do a good job at tracking the amount of steps made during the day, then comparing them against the amount of steps that should have done that day to burn the set number of calories (remember those goals?). When you perform your initial jog or walk with your new fitness tracker, it’s quite amazing the amount of steps that you clock up each day. Once this is realised, it makes it much easier to keep up the exercise and achieve your weight loss or fitness goal (guesswork is now a thing of the past).
As mentioned above, a majority of fitness devices provide a progress chart, normally in the form of an app that can be installed on your mobile device or computer. The progress chart will show each day’s performance and add up the figures for the week. The chart can then be customised to show calories burnt, distance, intensity and many other options.
An added bonus is that calories are burnt all day long even when doing stuff that you would normally have to such as cleaning the house, washing the car, walking the dogs or vacuum cleaning (don’t underestimate those house chores). Every little helps!
MOTIVATION, MOTIVATION, MOTIVATION!
As you can see from all the points mentioned above, the biggest benefit about owning a fitness tracker is that it eliminates the guesswork and shows you exactly where you are on your fitness journey. This not only makes it a useful must-have but also keeps you very motivated. In time, you will naturally start to beat your previous records and become fitter in doing so. I had the chance to use the FITBIT Surge and can proudly state that it has massively improved my performance and made me fitter than I have ever been.
WHAT FEATURES SHOULD I HAVE ON A FITNESS TRACKER?
Every fitness tracker should be capable of counting the daily amount number of steps and record the data (if it can’t do this, don’t buy it). The device should be able to store your fitness data for up to 7 days, but more advanced models can store the activity data for up to 30 days.
The features on trackers do vary, and some are loaded with more advanced features depending on the user’s training needs. Some trackers can distinguish between easy steps and challenging aerobic steps then determine the calories burnt for each of those steps.
Other trackers also calculate the distance covered even if you are exercising on a static machine such as a treadmill (an additional accessory might be required). Most trackers have a stop-watch function and will display details showing how long each exercise session lasted.
Depending on the brand that you get, the manufacturer will usually provide a free app to install on your smartphone or computer, for example the fitbit app (as illustrated below). The information is displayed in a user-friendly way and is very easy to use. Some trackers will even let you to set daily, weekly or monthly goals for you to work towards achieving.
Fitness trackers are very useful and are changing the way we look at exercising by simplifying things that were once difficult to calculate, such as calories or steps. This, in turn, helps you use the data to determine whether you are doing enough, need to put in more work or sometimes, on rare occasions, slowdown (I’ve never needed to slow down).
I hope you’ve found this guide to be useful and I look forward to reading your comments below.