It seems as though almost everyone you know is wearing some kind of fitness tracker.
Is it because they’re cool?
Is it just another distraction to add to our constantly growing list of options?
Do they actually serve a function?
The answer is not really that straight forward and yet, the truth is they do serve a valuable function if you recognize their limitations.
What trackers can do today functionally is really only limited by how much you want to spend. Just remember though, they are only gathering data or information based on what you are actually doing. There are trackers that can tell what you’re doing based on your movements. Others, vaguely recognize types of movements and then make assumptions based on that input.
Again, the limitation is really only, how much do you want to spend. The technology behind what they can do is amazing. I mean, who would have thought a few years ago that we could put on a device that could actually count how many repetitions of a particular exercise you were doing, analyze it, and then give you audible input as to how to improve it? Who would have thought a tracker would be able to analyze your workout and give you feedback as to how to improve it either “on the fly” or during your next workout?
The answer to that one is, obviously someone did because we now have that technology.
That, however, is not the real question here. The question is again; Do you really need a tracker?
After all, we have gotten along just fine without them for a really long time. We self-assessed our efforts, paid attention to how we felt, and hopefully in most cases adjusted our activities accordingly. If we are athletes, perhaps a coach pointed out our weakness or opportunities for improvement, all without the need for a piece of technology monitoring our every move.
We basically, just stopped doing the work ourselves. And why not? If we can create things that make our lives easier, why shouldn’t we? I can’t argue with that thought, at all.
From a coach’s perspective, here are some of the pros and cons:
- They help you determine if you are moving enough throughout your day.
- Some can monitor your heart rate and in some cases have actually been the reason an individual got medically checked when abnormal patterns occurred.
- They can be used to help prepare for athletic events by tracking workouts.
- They help create a sense of awareness that movement is important in your life.
That last one from my point of view, may be one of the most important. Generally, when our health starts to decrease, it coincides with our not giving it much attention. If you’re regularly focused on how you feel, you’re more inclined to do something(like moving) on a day to day basis.
- We can tend to become less self-reliant when it comes to our health. I mean, if we have a tracker, it will tell us if we need to move right?
- Just like anything else, too much focus on one thing can be just that… too much. I have seen a lot of individuals who have had such a focus on getting their “Steps” that they forget why they are moving in the first place.
- At the basic level of tracker, all that’s being tracked is steps and that may not always be what we should be tracking.
I will say this; I do wear a tracker on a regular basis. In fact, I own several. I use them to track running routes. I use them sometimes to track steps. I use them to track my heart rate and particularly, my resting heart rate.(A key indicator of overall heart health)
What I don’t do is obsess over how many steps I get in a day. There are days where I get very few recorded steps and yet my over all physical work efforts may be higher than those days when I move as many as 20-30,000 steps.
I guess my point is…
If you can afford a tracker and it will help get you moving where you haven’t before by all means buy one. Just don’t get obsessive with it because you could be setting yourself up for failure. And more importantly, you could be missing the very things you want to get healthy for in the first place like family, friends, travel, etc. You know, the things that truly make life great!