Activity trackers – Should you wear one?

activity trackersActivity trackers, a way for us to track our sleep, our heart rates, how many steps we are taking and how many calories burned within the day. For many this seems like a really great investment to keep a track on your general health, but are they really necessary?

I will start with the pros

  • They are fantastic for getting some data on your daily habits. How many steps do you take, how much do you move in a day and not only how long are you sleeping for each night, but is that sleep good quality?
  • There are so many options to choose from based on the activities you like doing. The watch above, is a running specific watch and allows me to track my runs per mile or km and give me data for me to adjust my running during the activity and post run after I have analysed all of the figures.
  • If you stick to the same watch, although the data may be inaccurate, you have a consistent data flow to analyse so you can base the calories burned within the day etc consistently. Activity trackers need to be worn consistently for you to get the best data.
  • It makes you more aware of how inactive or active you are throughout the day. Keeping an eye on your steps taken throughout the day can encourage you to step away from the desk to stretch your legs more frequently throughout the day.
  • For many, they can be highly motivational especially for people who like to see physical data. Encouraging you to better your previous activity levels.
  • Many of the watches look pretty cool, they come in awesome colours and often will link to your phone to play music and receive notifications.

The cons

  • The data is often highly inaccurate, wear two watches of different brands at the same time and see the difference each one gives for steps taken and calories burned. That being said, if you are consistent with your watch, that is all that matters as you will have consistent data.
  • Some people, for many varying reasons, can become obsessive over the numbers. As we so often see with people using scales, it can become an unhealthy obsession leaving the user in an unhealthy mindset when it comes to exercising and fitness. At the end of the day, a healthy mind is a happy one and that should be your first aim.
  • Exercise should be about enjoyment. You should train because you like it and enjoy it rather than hitting a total amount of calories burned. Aside from using the watch to better a race time or your distance on the bike, don’t rely on the activity trackers to dictate your workouts.
  • The pricing varies incredibly. There are so many watches on the market now that it really does take some research to choose the right one for you. I have tried 3 different watches before I got to the one I like. For some, it may be a cost that isn’t necessary.

So, in conclusion, there are many pros and cons for wearing activity trackers but the overall answer is, it depends on you, your goals, your mindset and your preference. There is no right or wrong to wearing one, but if you do, take some time away from wearing it every so often. Go walking because you want to, not just to see the steps you have walked. Go to the gym and train how you want to, not just to see the calories burned at the end.

I often say to my clients that the easiest way to burn some more calories in the day is to get up and move more. So if you are someone who has a pretty sedentary job or you don’t move as much as you want to in the day, an activity tracker could be the answer.

For more tips on how to move more, head over to my blog all about fitting exercise into a busy life.

The above watch is the Garmin Forerunner 235. You can find it here, although Amazon often offer it far cheaper.

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