Fitness trackers are wearable devices designed to help those who want to further maximize their fitness gains. The term may refer to separate devices or apps that can be installed on any newer generation Android phone.
However, according to these research results published in JAMA, people have misunderstood the way fitness trackers work. The aim of fitness tracker developers is to create the best possible device that will motivate you to exercise, help you run faster, lift heavier, or pedal harder. It seems that tracking calories burned, or recording steps and speed, is insufficient for sparking necessary behavior changes that should lead to better athletic performance.
Fitness trackers are not really bridging the gap between behavior change and the simple recording of information, and the gap is substantial.
What may be the reason behind having them misunderstood? Aggressive marketing campaigns that promote these devices (as any other marketable product) can lead people to think that buying an activity monitor will help them get ripped or lose weight. This doesn’t mean that they don’t work, but that people have the wrong expectations and can easily be demotivated when they don’t achieve the desired fitness results.
Yes, you can have these devices work for you and help you step your game up, but they must meet certain criteria.
1. Use It!
This sounds pretty obvious, but according to those research results, it apparently isn’t quite. Many people who buy these devices don’t actually use them.
You’ll forget about your gadget in no time if you keep forgetting turn it on before you go out for a run. Also, it is reported that people don’t manage to retrieve and assess recorded data. Because of this, experts say that trackers that are smartphone-compatible may encourage their more frequent use.
2. Do You Really Want One?
The best fitness trackers out there cost a few hundred dollars or more, although they have come down in price in the last few years. If you’re about to make an investment, then it should be a smart one.
Once you purchase it, will you actually use it? Do you truly want it or need it? Don’t buy it only because you think you should or if you’re just dazzled by the latest tech trends.
3. Change is Motivated by Meaningful Feedback
The recorded data must be displayed in an easily accessible, understandable and clear format, under the assumption that it is accurate.
When you go out to shop for a fitness tracker, make sure that you can understand the data it gives you, because it’s more likely that it will motivate you to change your habits and behavior, thus pushing you harder to exercise.
4. Accurate Data Track
Certain wearable devices have proven to be very accurate (such as accelerometers), while newer wearables have technologies (sleep trackers and heart rate monitors) embedded in them that can’t really back up their validity with legitimate evidence.
According to a study conducted by the ACE, the inaccuracies were demonstrated when five popular fitness trackers were put to the test. The devices tracked the steps of participants who used elliptical trainers or ran on treadmills within 10% accuracy, which is impressive. However, fitness trackers were off the mark when the participants performed agility exercises that required less-redundant movements. This can teach us one valuable lesson, and that is not to be wooed by a wide range of tools and features, but to stick to the basics. The info these devices provide might be beyond what you need in the first place.
Nobody can say that fitness trackers don’t help, because it has been proven that they can make a difference. However, there is still much to learn about how to use them, as well as to have technology developed further for providing more accurate information regarding our fitness activities. If they help you to achieve what you want, than they are perfect, but you should use them in the right way.