The Truth About Fitness Trackers: Are They Worth It?

When it comes to staying healthy, some of the biggest struggles people face are accountability and motivation. A fitness tracker is one solution that promises to help with these issues. But do they really?

A recent study found that a whopping 1 in 5 Americans use fitness devices (a fitness tracker or smartwatch). Everyone from athletes to people just trying to be fitter relies on fitness trackers—perhaps, a bit too much.

Keep reading. We’re going to help you navigate the world of fitness trackers so you can see if this tech is worth it or not.

What Can Fitness Trackers Offer You?

Let’s start with the basics for those of you that aren’t familiar with fitness trackers. What is a fitness tracker?

A fitness tracker is a wearable device (usually a bracelet) that compiles data on your movement for the day (even sleep). Whereas smartwatches—like the Apple watch—can also track your movements (to a lesser extent) but their big claim to fame is app integration: the ability to place calls, pay for a coffee or text.

Fitness trackers are focused on fitness, not frills. What makes fitness trackers all the rage is all the features they come with can help you reach your fitness goals, like:

  • Step Counter: By far, the most well-known feature is the built-in accelerometer that tracks not only your steps but your up-down motion.
  • Movement Tracker: Pricier models contain other sensors that count your movement, like the gyroscope (motion detector). Then there’s GPS for keeping track of the distance you’ve walked, jogged or cycled.
  • Vital Signs: Fitness trackers also are equipped with heart rate monitors, and fancier models can keep tabs on your perspiration to calculate your intensity level—great for HIIT lovers. Join us for a free 30 day trial of BR+ and score access to hundreds of HIIT workouts.
  • Calorie Counter: Using the heart rate monitor, some trackers can even estimate the number of calories you’ve shredded. 
  • Sleep Monitor: Although this feature is cool, it’s still glitchy (across the board). Trackers measure your sleep movement (do you roll a lot or are you out cold?) to guess how many quality hours you’ve slept. This can be useful information when planning a rest day (e.g. if you slept like crap, take a rest day.)
  • Extra Features: As with anything techy these days, trackers sync up with your phone, so they can store data on your fitness level, sleep cycle, etc. Not only that, but these trackers can enable you to go for a run without your phone while retaining the ability to receive texts and track your movements. More expensive devices even offer touchless payment, music storage and calling features—like the smartwatch.

  • The Benefits of Fitness Trackers

    Why track your fitness? Glad you asked: it’s called personal accountability. These devices can be used as a tool to help motivate you to reach your goals. Some of the benefits to fitness trackers are:

    Sport Specific Modes: One of the best parts about fitness trackers is the wide variety makes it easier to find the right one for your preferred activity.

  • Runners, Marathoners, Cyclists: If your thing involves you covering a large distance, you want a tracker that monitors your heart rate, distance, lap time, pace and has GPS. For cyclists, you’re going to need to buy a sport-specific tracker that links to your biking equipment and can measure your cadence and power.
  • HIIT Lovers: If your idea of a workout involves bringing on the heat, then you won’t need GPS. Instead, opt for a device with different exercise modes. You’ll also want something sleek and slim so it doesn’t restrict your movements. Get your home gym set up with the Body Sculpting Kit Bundle.
  • Swimmers: Go for a waterproof device with GPS that can measure the distance you’ve covered while swimming.

  • 1. Battery Life & Design: Fitness trackers have a longer battery life (days or weeks) than smartphones because they're built exclusively for fitness purposes so they contain more sensors to measure your daily activity level, meaning they put a premium on analytics, not app integration with your phone. This also equates to longer battery life and design flexibility, in that some devices don’t need a screen—better yet, you can now buy a ring instead of a bracelet.

    2. Fitness App: The final benefit to fitness trackers is the companion fitness app that it comes with. The app stores all the collected data and allows you to visibly track your results. This is next-level accountability, and when used for your greater good, it’ll motivate you to go that extra mile to meet your goals. 


    The Bottom Line: Are Fitness Trackers Worth It?

    There’s a reason 1 in 5 people use fitness trackers: because it’s your high school gym teacher, cheerleader, sleep coach, personal trainer and so much more all rolled into one band that you conveniently wear on your wrist. While you absolutely do not need a fitness tracker to smash your health and fitness goals--some people, like those with eating disorders or exercise addictions, may find this constant feedback does more harm than good. However, for people who are approaching its use with a balanced, healthy attitude about fitness, then having one certainly won’t hurt. In fact, it can help you reach your fitgoals, faster. 

    What do you think? Have fitness trackers helped you live a healthier, fitter life?

    Share your thoughts in the comments.

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