If you’re looking to maximize your workout results or simply increase your daily activity, you’ve likely considered purchasing a fitness tracker. These wearable devices deliver a wealth of data that can help you assess your lifestyle and tailor your fitness efforts—but they’re often not used to their full potential.
While one in five Americans owns a wearable a device, a large percentage of people admit they stop using fitness trackers once the novelty wears off. Counting steps can quickly lose its luster. Maybe we’re looking at fitness trackers all wrong.
If you’re in the market for a wearable device, or if you have one taking up space on your nightstand, it might be time to evaluate your perspective. The experts at eBags are here to help. We’ve assembled this guide with some of our favorite products and tips for getting results.
Moving Beyond Steps
Fitness trackers now monitor a variety of metrics that offer a more comprehensive picture of wellness. They can give you insight into everything from stress management to sleep quality.
EXPERT TIP: While fitness trackers offer more points of data, knowing how to decipher and apply that data can be a challenge. Consider consulting a personal trainer or physician to help. A trainer, for example, can teach you how to monitor and control your heart rate during workouts.
Personal training can be pricey, though. Group classes are another option. You won’t get the same one-on-one attention, but trainers often share their expertise during class or answer questions afterward.
MUST-HAVE: The Bellabeat Leaf Urban not only tracks your steps and calories but also monitors sleep quantity and quality, menstrual cycles and stress levels. When stress is high, its guided meditation feature can help you refocus. Bonus: The Leaf Urban looks like a fashionable piece of jewelry and can be worn as a bracelet, necklace or clip.
One of the strengths of a fitness tracker is that it can show us how little decisions add up to big change over time. Walking 1,0000 more steps might not make a difference in one day, but over a week or a month, it can.
EXPERT TIP: Wearable devices have faced criticism for inaccurate or inconsistent data. They aren’t perfect, but the technology is improving.
Instead of getting caught up in minutia, consider the data within the overall context of your lifestyle and look for trends. Is there a particular day of the week that being active seems to be a challenge? Why is that? If you burned fewer calories, can you identify what you did differently?
Use data to help you identify questions and seek solutions that lead to positive change.
MUST-HAVE: If you’re working on the go and hoping small changes in steps, distance and calories add up, consider the Fossil Q Gazer Leather Hybrid Smartwatch. Track basic fitness metrics and receive alerts to calls, emails, and texts. This watch also looks like a traditional, stylish watch rather than a rubber bracelet.
The MyKronoz ZeRound offers many of the same features at a lower price point and also includes a display screen.
Setting Goals That Motivate
When you buy a fitness tracker, you’re committing to your overall health. You should set goals that motivate you to become your best self. Walking 10,000 steps a day? That’s a good short-term goal, but chances are, that alone isn’t going to motivate you toward a lifestyle change.
EXPERT TIP: Think of a fitness tracker in terms of your big-picture goals and how it can help you get there. Focus first on what you really want to achieve, not what a device can track. For example, if your goal is to run your first 5K. How many miles would you need to walk/run per week to adequately prepare for the race?
The goal should be about you, and it should be something that gives meaning to the data.
MUST-HAVE: With built-in GPS, the Samsung Gear Fit2 tracks a variety of sports and strength-training exercises, as well as steps and heart rate. The accompanying app will allow you to track daily progress and review up to a month’s worth of data.
Don’t Journey Alone
What will spur you to get out of bed an hour early to get to the gym? What will encourage you to choose healthy foods? Sometimes it’s saving face with your family and friends.
EXPERT TIP: Some people enjoy the solitude of an early-morning run, but most of us need workout partners or friends as a source of accountability and encouragement. Participate in the social community that accompanies many wearable devices, or get your friends and family involved via social media. You might inspire others to start their own fitness journey.
MUST-HAVE: Sometimes all it takes to motivate your body is a good tune. The TomTom Spark 3 comes with GPS tracking, records fitness data and, wait for it, allows you to store up to 500 songs without carrying your phone.
Rebeccah is a mountain girl turned beach bum who has explored beautiful destinations all of her life. She grew up hiking and mountain biking in the New River Gorge of West Virginia and now lives on Florida’s sun-kissed Gulf Coast. Her best days start on her family’s boat and end with oysters and cold beer at the local raw bar. She and her husband are focused on rearing the next generation of Lutz fishermen. (The first gift she bought her son, when he was still in the womb, was a lifejacket.) Rebeccah spent 15 years working in newsrooms and traveled the globe, reporting from places such as Meulaboh, Indonesia, and Sudan’s Nuba Mountains. Her international travel since then has been less dangerous, yet still an adventure — a 12-day cruise around the British Isles.