It seems like any health-conscious person has a wearable fitness tracker strapped to their wrist, checking their daily step count, tracking their workouts, and seeing how many calories they’re burning each day. But are these trackers really worth the investment (and the hype)?
The Cons of Wearing a Fitness Tracker
Investment: Good fitness trackers aren’t cheap; expect to pay around $200 for a tracker combined with a smartwatch, and $150 for one that focuses on fitness-only information, but will withstand constant use for 1-3 years for most people.
Health Anxiety: If you’ve ever experienced any health anxiety, you may find that having a watch on your wrist constantly monitoring you gives you a way to be a little more neurotic about your health than normal.
Forgetting to Put it On: The best way to use a fitness tracker is to charge it while you’re awake and sitting down (in the car, for example) so you can take advantage of any sleep monitoring features and workout monitoring. Most people won’t workout if they aren’t wearing it.
They’re Not Accurate: You’ve got to be realistic about what your fitness tracker can achieve; yes, they’ll track your heart rate but it’s never going to be as accurate as a chest heart monitor or clinical testing. Take the results with a pinch of salt – you may be burning more or fewercalories than it says.
The Pros of Wearing a Fitness Tracker
Awareness: If you don’t have a measurable way to know how active you are on average, you can’t improve beyond simply doing more. If you work in an office or struggle to fit in real workouts, a fitness tracker is a great way to know how many steps you’re getting in and encourage you to improve.
Anxiety: If you don’t experience the con listed above, wearing a fitness tracker can be a great way to check-in and see that your heart rate is just fine and that you, too,are fine. It’s tempting in the heat of an anxiety attack to assume your heart is going a million miles an hour, but this is rarely the case.
Reminders: You can set your fitness tracker up to remind you to move once an hour if you haven’t done so. When we sit for long periods of time our metabolism slows and our muscles and joints can grow stiff.
Realistic Calorie Count: If you have no idea how many calories you currently burn in a day, a fitness tracker will give you a good ballpark figure to try to stick to or stay under if you’re trying to lose weight.
App Integration: If you buy a fitness tracker from Fitbit, Garmin, or a similar brand, you’ll get an app that integrates with other fitness apps and services that will help you manage your health better. MyFitnessPal is a free food tracking app that easily integrates with most fitness tracker apps and will help you know how much you should or shouldn’t be eating.
If you’ve had your eye on a fitness tracker for some time now and are looking for a reason to buy one, you’ll find the awareness of your health alone is worth it. However, if you are perfectly happy tracking your weekly workouts and eating healthily, don’t feel like you have to buy one!