The use of activity trackers to monitor fitness progress started in the late 2000s when Fitbit was introduced. Today, various wearables provide even more data you can use to track your progress and achieve goals.
While smartwatches and their health monitoring features have seen many advancements over the years, many people striving to lose weight, gain muscle, or simply become more active eventually give up on their fitness trackers. They may become frustrated by the amount of data provided and stop wearing it entirely.
As you strive to get in shape, learn how to effectively use a fitness tracker.
- Make Sure You Have the Right One
In some cases, newer doesn’t always mean better. Extra data that adds little to your overall progress and goals can become distracting. The wrong tracker can torpedo your efforts from day one, so before purchasing any model, it’s important to do your research.
Consider what you will track: Do you want to count steps, and monitor heart rate, or are you seeking activity-specific data? Also, ask yourself how many reminders you’ll need to stay on target and how you wish to track your progress. Some may benefit from a more basic fitness tracker designed to count steps and active minutes, while those with a more detailed fitness plan may want additional features.
- Wear it Everyday
If you don’t put on your fitness tracker at the start of each day, you’re not seeing the full results. Unfortunately, according to a 2016 survey by Gartner, close to 30 percent of users eventually stop wearing their devices, primarily because they no longer find them useful.
Even on your laziest days, steps still count. Particularly for a tracker using aggregate data, this information helps paint a holistic picture of your activity and overall health. A fuller picture can also offer insight into why you may not be reaching your goals of increased activity or dropping weight.
- Establish Clear Goals
Another major obstacle, many who start using a fitness tracker do not create clear goals. Rather, they simply want to “get fit” or “lose weight” and passively use the device, observing their data without considering the insights.
A fitness tracker is simply a tool for measuring progress, rather than the end-all-be-all of your routine. As such, you’ll want to begin your fitness journey with defined yet reasonable goals: Taking a certain number of steps, getting a specific number of minutes per activity, or losing a number of pounds. Start small and periodically adjust your goals through the data observed from your fitness tracker.
- Determine What You’re Tracking
Not all data is created equal and, while fitness trackers have continued to offer more information over the past decade, some of it can get muddled and confusing. If you’re using a wearable to monitor steps and physical activity, be sure to differentiate between the two, in terms of what counts as a step and how you’re burning calories.
Certain devices also let you track activities and steps separately. Implement this feature if you have it and establish goals for your preferred activities and daily steps. You may also want to ignore certain types of data that won’t add meaningful insight into your progress.
Many wearables let you customize the features being tracked. If your fitness tracker offers a degree of customization, consider omitting the aspects you don’t plan to monitor from this interface for a more streamlined experience.