7 Fitness Technology Basics
By: Alice Burron
It looked like it was from out of this world – a little bronze disc that had an alien-like marking on the top, and a flashing circle of small lights. My youngest son picked it up and we all gathered around. What is it, he asked? I have no idea, I said. He stuck it in his pocket and throughout the day asked anyone and everyone if they had ever seen the likes of it before. No one knew what it was.
Google finally gave us the answer and identified it as a Misfit fitness tracking device – it not only tracks steps, sleep, and calories, but also looks out-of-this-world fashionable. But internet reviews were not so great.
As a personal trainer even I’m finding it hard to keep up with the latest fitness tracking devices and wearable technology. There are so many options and my clients want to know which ones will work best for them. This is what I tell them.
1. Start with devices that have the must-have features you want. How you are going to wear your device is particularly important. Some trackers are worn on the wrist, some can be hidden under clothing, and some even offer both options, like the Misfit. I’ve lost a few clip-on trackers in airports, toilets and who knows where (as did the person who had the Misfit my son found). And checking progress on your tracker located under your shirt is awkward.
2. If you’re tempted by lots of features be restrained – you’ll probably use only a select few of those functions. Start simple, then advance later. Also make sure the device connects easily with whatever platform you use – phone or computer. Sometimes work-arounds are available, but save yourself the hassle and limit complications.
3. Do you like encouragement? Consider the devices that communicate. For example, my Fitbit says things like “Rock on, Alice!” and smiles.
4. If tracking lots of analytics like speed, distance, heart rate and altitude are what you’re after consider a smartwatch, such as those offered by Garmin, Mio, Polar, Jawbone, Sunnato, Timex or TomTom. Some of these come with a chest strap to analyze heart rate. Fitbit also measures heart rate without a chest strap, but its accuracy has been questioned, so you might want to wait until that technology improves.
4. If you work out often and are serious about tracking data, look to spend at least $149. If you’re looking for something that tracks the basics, like steps, distance and calories, expect to spend between $49 to $149. Typically, you get what you pay for. Look at the reviews.
5. If you need a waterproof device remember. Some are water resistant, few are waterproof.
6. Do you want to charge it daily? There are devices with charging stations and those with batteries.
7. Keep Moving. This is truly the thing that matters most when it comes to fitness and reaching the ultimate goal of wellness.