As people became more aware of the role physical activity plays in overall health, they began looking for easy ways to be more active. Across America, the health-conscious embraced fitness trackers; you see them on people’s wrists nearly everywhere you go. If you’re new to the trend, they look like a cross between a bracelet and a watch.
People use fitness trackers, also known as wearables, for many reasons. But their main value is in helping you recognize the habits and patterns in your daily life. From there, you can set goals and make incremental changes to improve your health. In this post, we look at how quickly the technology has grown and how you can use it to reach your fitness goals.
Do Fitness Trackers Work?
If your only experience with a fitness tracker was an early version of the technology, you likely think they’re a waste of money. That’s because early versions did little more than count how many steps you took each day. Sure, it was easier than counting them in your head, but for a fraction of the price you could buy a pedometer that does the same thing.
Today’s fitness trackers bear little resemblance to yesterday’s devices. Although they still measure how many steps you take in a day, the technology has grown significantly. Of course, much depends on the type of device you choose, since capabilities vary according to brand and model. Common features include:
- Reminders to get moving if you’ve been sedentary for a certain number of minutes
- Heart rate monitor
- Track sleeping habits
- Meditation and deep breathing prompts
- Set and track a variety of fitness goals
- Analytics for tracking progress
Wearables also feature vastly improved battery life and software that’s easier to navigate.
Now, let’s look at how to get the most out of your tracker.
Start by Creating an Account
You may be able to use your tracker straight out of the box, but if you really want to get the full benefit, you need to create an account. Most brands include questions about age, weight, and gender, information the tracker uses to help estimate how many calories you burn in a day. In addition, you need an account if you want to track your progress and look at the data your wearable collects.
Of course, the data needs to go somewhere; that’s why most fitness trackers also have a mobile app. For it to work properly, you really need to download the app. However, if you do not have a smartphone, some trackers can sync with a computer.
Figure Out How to Sync
The information in your wearable syncs to your account via the mobile app and/or your computer. You want to know (1) how it syncs and (2) how often, so review the instruction guide that came with the device. For example, syncing may require you to enable Bluetooth on your smartphone. Or, it may require you to open the app to sync. In that case, give it a minute to register your recent activity after you launch the app.
What Are Your Goals?
The goal of the tracker is to increase your physical activity. Most trackers have a default goal of 10,000 steps per day. However, they should also allow you to customize that goal and even add others, such as target weights.
Before changing your daily step goals, it makes sense to track your activity for a few days to see where you are right now. If you currently lead an extremely sedentary life, either leave it at 10,000 or start at a lower number. Then, each week you can increase your daily goal by 1,000 steps. On the other hand, if you’re already fairly active, set a target that’s higher than 10,000 daily steps.
Incorporate MyFitnessPal with Your Fitness Tracker
If your goal is total wellness, you may want to make some dietary targets as well. In that case, check out MyFitnessPal, which lets you log and track the calories you eat. Try it for at least a couple of weeks so you can get used to it and view trends in your behavior, such as how your calories correlate with your physical activity.
Test the Device’s Other Features
If your fitness tracker is one of the newer models, it should have some interesting additional features. Read through the instruction guide and have fun testing them out to see which features you like best.
Two popular additional features are geared toward a holistic health approach. For example, guided breathing exercises help relieve stress, which may help lower blood pressure and risk of chronic illness. You can also track your sleep habits. You may discover you sleep better with a more active day, or when you cease physical activity by a certain time.
Look for the Tracker That’s Right for You
There is a wide variety of fitness trackers on the market, even within a single brand. Review your options carefully, including the features they offer and what customers say about them. Also, ask your friends and family if they use a tracker and, if so, what they’d recommend.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you’re interested in increasing your activity levels, losing weight, or otherwise improving your health, talk to your doctor. He or she has the best understanding of your current capabilities and can help you set realistic goals. Medicare Part B covers obesity screening and counseling performed in a primary care setting.
If you have questions about your Medicare coverage or plan options, please call us toll-free at 855-350-8101 to speak with a licensed sales agent.