Will Using A Fitness Tracker Motivate You To Move More?

In 1965, a Japanese professor, Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, introduced consumers to the pedometer, a device that counts the steps of pedometer wearers.

Hatano had theorized that if people took 10,000 steps per day it would reduce his country’s obesity problem, and his theory is still viable.

However, we now have more sophisticated gadgets for monitoring our up, down, and side to side movements. Today’s fitness trackers use GPS technology to gather a wealth of health and exercise data that some people find not only helpful, but motivating.

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Will It Motivate You?

Whether using a fitness tracker inspires people to increase their physical activity depends on how the tracker’s information is interpreted. A positive spin on our activity intensity, time, and calories-used can spark a desire to exercise even more. Negative evaluations of the same data could send someone in need of exercise back to the comforts of their couch, snack in hand.

Let’s say, for instance, an initial goal is to add 1,000 steps to each day, and for three days the tracker records increases of 400, 525, and 475 steps. A positive spin on this information such as, “Great, I’m halfway to my goal” will be inspiring. A negative response such as, “I can’t even manage to add 1,000 steps” will naturally be self-defeating.

One way to keep the fitness tracker experience positive might be pairing-up with someone else who uses one. Each can hold the other accountable, share in one another’s accomplishments, and provide encouragement as needed.

Tracker Tips

If you think using a fitness tracker might help you get or stay in shape but don’t want to purchase one to find out, you can rent them from a website called Lumoid (link below). Choose up to three tracker models to try at home for $35.00. If you buy an item, 25 of your dollars goes toward the purchase.

When assessing different fitness trackers, keep in mind:

  • Not all fitness trackers have precision accuracy, but getting consistent, near accurate daily feedback is what helps people assess their behavior patterns and progress over time.
  • Simplicity is sometimes best. Before purchasing a tracker consider your personal goals, and budget. Some trackers monitor heart rate, sleep patters, steps taken, and/or calories burned—all helpful features, but only if you use them. Also, consider trackers made specifically for your activity of choice (e.g., walking, cycling, swimming, running).
  • Some trackers are designed to count the number of steps taken each day, whether people are power walking or going to the fridge for a snack. Other trackers focus on monitoring activities done for a specific amount of time, such a working out on an elliptical, going for a run, or swimming laps. Many devices cover both options and some automatically sense the difference between counting steps and tracking an activity—others need a button pressed to start and stop activity monitoring.
  • In this age of computer hacking it is possible for personal information to be leaked from a fitness tracker. However, this possibility is greatly reduced by not wearing the devices in densely populated areas, such as shopping malls.

It’s important, whether using a fitness tracker or not, to set radically reasonable goals. People who have been sedentary a long time should maybe start by adding just 200 steps to each day, or even less. Small, even incremental efforts made consistently, day after day, can create healthy habits.

Source: Fitness/Mercola; Rent Fitness Tracker/Lumoid

Photo credit: Vernon Chan

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