One of the things that motivate athletes to put more effort in their exercises is when they notice a good progress. When I started running years ago, it was difficult to keep records of my daily exercises. I had multiple excel spreadsheets for each distance I ran and for each day of the week - talk about overkill. However, lucky for us technology has advanced, and fitness trackers were introduced to make it easy to follow up your progress.
Evolution of Fitness Trackers
Fitness trackers are classified under workout wearables, though skin-tight clothes came before these trackers. Initially, the fitness clothes were introduced to enhance the comfort and performance of athletes during exercises.
IQ Intel points out that the measurable fitness trend was first introduced in the 60s. Below is a 1960s version of a pedometer. Back then a pedometer was used up to 10,000 steps of a person on a daily basis. Since then, the technology has evolved to deliver better results for athletes.
Currently, various trackers are designed with internal sensors that track the perspiration, heart rate, movement, sleep patterns, and skin temperature. The sensors also detect if the wearer is sleeping, biking, running, or walking.
Benefits of Fitness Trackers
Fitness trackers are supposedly the most vital wearable in an athlete’s daily activities. These devices are special, and they help to track your progress accurately. So why should you consider wearing a fitness tracker?
These trackers have been designed to help you set specific goals when on the run. They have tips, workouts, and reachable goals that help you set them according to your ability. For instance, I recently advised my friend to set a 5K-goal on his new tracker, and progress to the 10K, before moving on to half-marathon. The Garmin Vivofit is one that you can use to track your steps and most runners say is the easiest to setup a personalized goal.
One thing that we runners love about these trackers is that they help us to be more accountable in our running development. Since you will set the goals on your own, it will be up to you to follow them. Luckily, these special devices come with reminders, so they’ll help you work hard to reach your goals.
Harvard Health Info mentions how a group of overweight women with fitness trackers showed an increased physical activity more than those without the trackers. The Misfit Shine 2 and the Fitbit Charge have built in reminders so if you have not moved in an hour or so they remind ever so gently with a vibration.
They Motivate Your Efforts
Generally, if you notice a positive change in your daily activities and progress, you will be motivated to put in more efforts. That is what these devices do. They let you set goals, and give you a report of your progress.
For instance, my friend, whom I train, was so excited when he moved from only 300 steps per workout in a day, to a massive 10,000 steps. I believe he managed to reach the 10,000 steps per exercise in a day because he gradually got used to the 300 steps per workout.
Developed with advanced technology, these trackers can show you when you are most active, and when you are least active. All in all, you will be motivated to reach the next goal once you complete the current one.
You Are Your Own Boss
I have been running for several years now, and one thing I have realized is that many people are afraid of going to the gym or a fitness class because of the coach or the people in the gym. Some mean athletes laugh at the beginners, while mean coaches are too hard on them. So in the long run, they decide to stay at home.
Well, thanks to the fitness trackers, you can set them to guide you as you wish. Even though they are the ones directing you in what exercise to engage in, you are still the one who decides if you want to work out or not. You can even do the steps within your yard or in the neighborhood and record your progress. The NIKE Plus watch is one that I have had for several years. I like the fact that it encourages me with a quick "YOU CRUSHED IT" or Tim Tebow telling me I kicked butt after a run.
Yes, you got that right. These devices can actually help you manage your diet as you engage in workouts to keep you fit. They have been designed with features that aid you in keeping track of the quality and quantity of food you consume each day. We have always been told but the Harvard Business Review Scientist Ron Friedman points out that the food you eat can adversely effect your productivity.
Keep in mind that some trackers might not have that unique feature to let you track your dieting. A good tracker will let you input the choices of food you wish to consume, including the daily water intake. This way, you can evaluate your diet quality to help you achieve a fit structure and perform better on the tracks. The FITBIT Flex connects with MyFitness Pal where you can track your calories.
Sleep is good for the body, and it is highly recommended for athletes. When you sleep, you are putting your body to rest, which in turn boosts your subsequent performance. Your sleep quality will have an impact on your energy level, cravings, metabolism, mood, and overall health. WebMD recommends at minimum 7-9 hours of sleep for those runners currently in training.
A good fitness tracker will help track your sleep patterns, as they indicate the length of the sleep, and if it was light or deep. You can also know how many times you woke up throughout the night. If you have a track of this, you can try to adjust your sleeping habits that will boost your overall life performance. The Misfit Ray might be the smallest of the trackers that have the capability to track your sleep patterns
They Allow You to Work Out in Groups
While some beginner athletes might prefer working out on their own as they follow the tips and guides on the tracker, others enjoy exercising in groups. It is very much recommended to exercise in groups since you will be encouraged to work out more to beat your friends.
Some fitness trackers can be linked to the social media platforms, which then lets you share your progress with your friends. Even if you live in different locations, you can still work out individually and post your progress in the group. I routinely posted my runs from The NIKE + to facebook to encourage my friends in our running group.
It Manages/Boosts Your Heart Health
John Hopkins Medicine points out how a fitness tracker can help to boost your heart health. The sensors are inbuilt, and they detect your heart rate whenever you are exercising.
If you have a health disorder, the tracker will prevent you from over-training, which could be a disaster to your heart. They will notify you when your heart rate goes beyond the normal level. This way, you can take a break and avoid any possible cardiac arrest. The Samsung Gearfit 2 has a large screen so you can easily look down at quick glance and see what your current heart is as you train.
Thanks to the ever-evolving technology, the fitness trackers offers more than just reading your heart rate. As we have mentioned, these trackers have a workout plan and tips. Other than that, they can work as a regular watch. You can set reminders, which are handy if you have a busy schedule but you still need to keep fit.
I usually sync my tracker’s data with my smartphone and laptop. Also, I can connect it to the laptop via USB for file transfer or charging. Above all, they are smartwatches that let you control your phone remotely. The Garmin 735XT can pretty do absolutely anything you can imagine, it can even tell you how much lactic acid build up you have and it specifically designed as a running watch.
There is Always One for Every Athlete
Some trackers go for over $200, which might be too much for a beginner. However, you can still get trackers that go for as low as $20, which will serve you as you expect. The point is determining what you need from the specific tracker.
Even though the cheap trackers might serve you as you are on your fitness pursuit as an athlete, I wouldn’t advise you to go for them. Ideally, purchase a tracker that can help you set goals and progress as a runner. It is all about finding a tracker that can offer the best functionalities that are relevant to your running progress.
How to Get the Most Out Of Your Fitness Tracker
It is one thing to own a fitness tracker, and another to use it. Just because you purchased the most expensive tracker online doesn’t mean that you are automatically fit. That is why you need to be keen to use these devices to perfection for the best results. Here is a quick guide to help you.
• Only use it as a guide: Work hard
Some novice runners expect the tracker to automatically count the steps and grant them a fitness achievement. Unless you get out and start running, the tracker will remain where you initially set it. You must put in enough efforts to reach your goals.
• Create You Personalized Goals
Mostly, you will find preset goals in a fitness tracker, which makes it easier for some athletes to blend in and follow. However, the best way to ensure you have a decent progress is to set your own daily goals. Setting your own goals will give you an easier approach of progressing, compared to when you follow the preset goals.
• Don’t rely on the calorie count
Though the fitness trackers are designed with advanced technology, the calorie count is usually incorrect. So ensure you choose a tracker that has an inbuilt bpm sensor to help you manage your calorie count. All in all, be cautious when handling your calorie intake with the trackers.
• Join a Social/Running Group
Joining a social platform can help you enjoy the progress and also encourage you to work harder towards you goal. Ensure that you join a social community that is active and one that is related to your interested field. If you are an aspiring marathoner, join a 5k-based social group. MeetUp.com is a great place to find running groups in your area.
• Start with A Micro Goal
Many novices start with unreachable goals, which then make them give up in the long run. The best way to ensure you have a positive progress is by starting with small, reachable goals.
Wearable cites the tips on how you should use your fitness tracker for the best results.
Here is a video to help you understand the benefits of a fitness tracker. The video is aired by DNews, which has over 2-million YouTube subscribers. It also digs deep on how effective the tracker can be in an athlete’s life.
With many fitness trackers available on the market, I would only advise you to pick one that will perfectly meet your needs and expectations. Don’t be afraid to spend over $100 for a single tracker; you will thank yourself later. All in all, ensure that you put in more effort and be disciplined in your workouts at all time.