Do fitness trackers really work?

From Fitbit and Nike+, to Garmin and Samsung Gear, wearable technology that helps us with our fitness goals has become more popular than ever – global forecasts predict that by 2019 the sports, fitness and activity monitors market will be worth over $2.8 billion!

There’s a lot of debate around the accuracy of fitness trackers – some are certainly better than others when it comes to tracking your step count, and the more advanced now boast the ability to monitor your sleep pattern, track your heart rate, and provide information on your skin temperature and blood oxygen levels.

Whether you buy into the science behind fitness trackers or not, I personally think they’re a great tool – and if you’re in the process of becoming more active then they can be a huge benefit.

Self-monitoring leads to self-awareness

 The explosion of fitness trackers and apps has ultimately led to millions of people making a greater effort to get fit and healthy, and no matter how you look at it, this can only be a good thing!

It doesn’t necessarily matter that sleep patterns are better detected from brain waves than wrist movements, or that if you were to wear three different devices you might come out with three different sets of results. We all know deep down that we should be more active and get more sleep, but if there’s nothing motivating you to do so then it can be easy for it to completely drop off your radar.

Fitness trackers do a really good job of keeping the idea that you should be more active at the front of your mind – you’ll probably find yourself taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the bus a stop earlier, or even just going for a walk round the block if it means you increase your steps from 9,500 to 10,000 a day so that you reach your goal.

If you work in a job where you spend a large chunk of the day sat behind a desk, then the gentle buzz on your wrist to remind you to get up and move about for 5 minutes can only be a good thing! Plus, when you integrate fitness trackers into apps such as My Fitness Pal where you can keep a track of what you’re eating throughout the day, how many calories you’re consuming and how many you’re burning, you’ll probably find yourself starting to make healthier choices when it comes to your eating habits.

As a nation, we’re becoming more focused on health and wellbeing – and we’re more educated than ever on the issues that can arise as the result of an inactive and sedentary lifestyle. So, even though more research and science needs to go into the development of existing fitness trackers and apps, the fact that they’re a motivating force in themselves shouldn’t be ignored.

Ultimately, anything that helps to get us up and moving should be encouraged – and the fact that most fitness trackers and apps have the option of sharing your daily activity with friends and creating teams is great for encouraging healthy competition.

Most fitness professionals will testify to the fact that there’s usually a significant event in a person’s life which motivates them to get fit and healthy, but if this momentum isn’t maintained then it’s easy to fall back into old patterns – how many people do you know who’ve signed up to 12 months at a gym and given up after three months?

It can be the same with fitness trackers, but if you’ve got friends, family, colleagues, team mates etc to help spur you on and keep you active, then fitness trackers can have a really positive impact. And that’s why, regardless of what science may currently suggest, I believe that fitness apps and devices can only be a positive step, and I encourage my clients to engage with them wherever possible.



One thought on “Do fitness trackers really work?

  1. Hi Ben,

    Yes, I think they do. I won a watch from Polar for my wife, she does use it and endeavours to achieve her 10,000 steps per day. For me, it provides a bit of a competition to see if I can beat my cycling time or amount of activity per day. I do track my heart rate during exercise (cycling to work and back) and my steps during the day. We have also got the scales that link in to the Polar Flow app to monitor and track our weight. (working so far…) 🙂


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