Fitness technology is a fast growing area of the fitness industry and will only become more popular as people of all ages join the fitness and health trend in Australia and internationally.
No matter what aspect of your health or fitness you’d like to track, there’s a watch, band, app, device or tracker that will reveal your current status and your progress along your fitness journey.
In this article I’ll be highlighting many of the fitness devices on the market, what they do and how they can help track your fitness and health progress.
So whether you’re just beginning a fitness program or are an experienced exerciser, there’s one or more pieces of fitness tech that will help you monitor your training so you can make the necessary changes to optimise your program and your results.
Co-Founder Exercises.com.au, Health Hacker, Work Stress & Anxiety Expert, Digital Nomad
How Technology Has Changed Health And Fitness
Technology has always evolved in order to help humankind find solutions and make processes more efficient. Communications have come a long way from the days of Morse code to today’s smart phones.
The typewriter has become a relic while main frames are regarded as dinosaurs in the age of compact technology. Fax machines and snail mail have been rendered obsolete by e-mail. But how technology has changed health and fitness seems to have taken a different course.
The idea of health and fitness itself has come a long way. It is no longer synonymous with vanity or treated simply as a pastime. With stress related illnesses on the rise coinciding with the increasing cost of health care, more people are turning to exercise as a means to get healthier and fitter.
The Evolution Of Technology In Fitness
For those who have been regularly exercising in the gym as far back at the 1980’s, you would note that not much has changed by way of exercise equipment.
Yes, we now have anti – gravity treadmills, selector-ised dumbbells for a quick weight change and cable motion equipment. But these have barely differentiated from products a decade ago.
The reason for this is that the evolution of technology in fitness did not correspond with the evolution of training systems. In fact, today’s training systems are more aligned with basic, old school workouts that hardly require sophisticated gym equipment.
Aerobics classes once popular in the 1980’s have given way to boot camp classes and core strengthening programs.
These are methods that combine bodyweight movement and old school equipment such as kettlebells, bands and the medicine ball to improve natural strength, functionality and coordination.
Even the innovative and highly effective TRX suspension cable systems are used to increase resistance and difficulty levels for bodyweight exercises like pushups, pull ups and squats.
Treadmills and elliptical machines still line many cardio areas in the gym but the technology behind it have hardly changed. However, its function has shifted from steady state to interval type training.
In a strange conundrum, technology in fitness has evolved to support training programs that have gone back to basic, fundamental and traditional exercises. Thus, the effect of technology in fitness can hardly be noticed in exercise equipment. But it has clearly manifested itself in wearable technology.
How Fitness Wearables Have Influenced The Health And Fitness Lifestyle
It can be said that the jump off point in how technology has changed health and fitness can be traced in 2007 with the introduction of FitBit.
FitBit represented the new generation of fitness wearable; the fitness tracker. Its function was to record movement for the purpose of creating a baseline of its user’s degree of physical activity.
By having a baseline, you have a reference point on the changes needed to improve your health and fitness lifestyle. It also coincided with the results of a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Finland from 2007 to 2008 that showed taking 10,000 steps a day may prevent heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
People who want to start a health and fitness lifestyle now have a portable “training partner” who will inform them on their level of progress, the amount of calories consumed for the day, the quality of sleep and with some devices, correct their exercise technique.
Pushing The Boundaries Of Fitness And Performance
When the FitBit was first introduced in the market back in 2007, not many industry analysts gave it much hope of growing into an industry. Nike’s venture with Apple the Nike + iPod did not gain much traction and the reception to the FitBit was not warm.
Fast forward several years later and the fitness wearable industry is introducing new products every month that represent the new age of fitness technology.
The Second Wave Of Fitness Technology
Finding your own fitness tracker can be a daunting challenge. Since FitBit’s initial foray into the fitness wearable industry, many other companies have launched their own line of fitness trackers, fitness bands and fitness watches.
From models that have accelerometers and altimeters, fitness trackers have evolved to include features that measure heart rate, sleep quality, distance, speed and recovery time.
Then you have wearable technology that collects data on your running stride so you can pinpoint problems in technique.
There are also specialised fitness trackers that are designed for various sports. One such fitness watch, the Moto Actv has pre-designed programs for over 40 types of physical activity!
If you believe fitness technology could no longer evolve, get ready for the second wave of devices that are designed to push the boundaries of fitness and performance.
The Most Innovative Products Of Fitness Technology
The Industrial Revolution proved that humankind’s resilience in finding solutions and ways to improve quality of life will lead to a never – ending cycle of technological evolution. In the fitness industry, the purpose of technology is to find ways to get users fitter by addressing issues that impinge performance.
The growing popularity of fitness trackers proved these devices were more than just high –tech pedometers. It created a behavioral shift in fitness from being merely an activity to a way of life.
With the fitness tracker, people have a means of staying on top of their health.
As people become more engaged with the challenge of becoming fitter, healthier and motivated with the prospects of improving performance, technology will further evolve to ensure these objectives are met.
Here are a few of the most innovative products of fitness technology:
Readiband Sleep Tracker – This is a precursor to the next wave of fitness trackers that focuses on the most powerful component of the human organism: the mind. Readiband Sleep Tracker trackes travel, time zone differentials and sleep – wake schedules which is why it is becoming the fitness tracker of choice of professional athletes.
It uses an “effectiveness score” which measures the effect of fatigue on performance. Players will know based on their effectiveness score if they will perform at their best on the day of the game.
If the effectiveness score is below acceptable parameters, the coaching staff will have enough time to address the issue before game time.
Omegawave – Another new device that evaluates your state of well–being by determining the condition of your internal processes. In this case, the Omegawave focuses its functionality on your Central Nervous System, the cardiac system and metabolic readiness.
The Omegawave package includes a sensor, ECG chest belt, CNS measurement cable, USB charging cable and a bag of 100 electrodes for CNS measurement. Results can be downloaded and viewed through the Omegawave app.
Pureflow – Technology’s answer to faster recovery in between exercise sessions, the Pureflow improves blood circulation by using your heart rate as the main indicator.
When using Pureflow, your legs are fitted inside sleeves that are pumped with air the compression of which depends upon your heart rate. The more tired you are the greater the compression and the more efficient the circulation of blood back to your heart.
Fit 3D – This is a software program that produces a three dimensional scan of your body and gathers data on your body composition such as your waist and hip size and provides these as references to how your body has changed.
The purpose of Fit 3D is to have users view their health and fitness not as a consequence of data but of intuition. Fit 3D seeks to find the answer to the question, “After all the data from your exercise has been collected and analysed, how do you feel?”
Push – The first fitness tracker specifically for strength training. Push tracks the amount of weight you are lifting and the number of reps. You can view data by accessing its mobile application and have Push analyse the amount of power you are generating.
Push can customise a workout for you based on your calculated power output. If your numbers show fatigue, Push will calculate the amount of weight you should carry for the day. If a fitness tracker can track data at 10 times per second, Push measures data at 250,000 times a second!
Fitness Technology In The Near Future
Fitness technology will continue its evolutionary process in the years ahead. As technology breaks new boundaries, companies will continue to find new challenges to overcome. That is part of who we are as the Human Race.
We will always be in an endless pursuit to improve our quality of life.
With fitness trackers, technology has found ways to help us improve our health and fitness. And with our growing dependence on smart technology and mobile devices, we should be prepared to see more innovative products in the near future.
How Wearables Are Influencing Our Health And Fitness Programs
Fitness wearables have come at a day and age where time is a valuable commodity. People are doing more things at a faster rate; multi-tasking has become a by-word.
Ironically, technology which has the primary purpose of making things easier and more convenient is the culprit. In the process of accelerating the rate of doing things, we are able to do more in the same amount of time.
It is only proper that technology through fitness wearables is influencing our health and fitness programs. If you are from Generation X or those born from 1966 to 1979, your idea of a fitness wearable would be a stop watch feature in your analog wristwatch.
Those from Generation Y; the Millennials who were born from 1980 to 1994 are more tech- savvy and can appreciate the value of fitness wearables. Many were already of age when the smart devices came out.
The new age of fitness wearables will find a huge market with Generation Z or those who were born from 1994 to 2012. Despite the gloom and doom forecasts on the future of fitness wearables as far back as two years ago the industry is still going strong.
What Are Fitness Wearables?
Fitness wearables are devices designed to measure, track, organize and calculate activities that support fitness-related programs including workout programs and diets and which can be worn by their users.
An argument can be made that the first incarnations of fitness wearables were the analog watches with the stop watch feature popularised in the 1980’s. But the fitness wearables in the new millennium are classified as by-products of smart technology.
The innovation which paved the way for fitness wearables was the 2006 collaboration between Nike and Apple. The Nike + iPod Sports Kit consisted of a transmitter device inside a Nike shoe which could communicate data and information with Nike + Sportsbands and Sportswatches and with higher level iPods and iPhones.
Today’s most popular fitness wearables are those worn around the wrist such as smart watches and fitness trackers. The most popular brands are Samsung, Pebble, Apple, FitBit, Sony, Lenovo and LG.
How Do Fitness Wearables Work?
Many of today’s fitness wearables particularly the ones worn on the wrist work through an accelerometer that measures acceleration at three axis points. These axis points are the start of the motion, the end of the motion and its intensity.
An accelerometer is composed of two (2) electrically charged plates and a small counter- balance located between the plates. At rest, the counter- balance of the accelerometer is in the middle. When you begin moving, the counter-balance starts to shift from one plate to the other and the sensor records the motion.
How these data are gathered and analysed will depend on the devices’ algorithm. Each device has its own algorithm. Some fitness trackers only count steps while others such as Nike’s FuelBand convert data into their own units and calculate calories and other fitness information.
Manufacturers regularly test data collected by their technology with those from their competitors. This is to ensure accuracy and precision of all data gathered and analysed.
How Do Fitness Wearables Influence Your Health And Fitness Program?
Fitness wearables are able to influence health and fitness programs because it gives its user access to data and information valuable to track their performance. Regardless of your fitness goals and objectives or the type of exerciser you are, a fitness wearable will serve its purpose.
You will know the amount of work done; total calories ingested and even the execution of proper technique. These data are far ahead and valuable compared to just recording time recorded per distance elapsed.
Thus, even if there are discrepancies between fitness wearables, there are bases for improving, adjusting or refining the health and fitness program. The availability of real time data will help keep its user on course in attaining his or her objectives.
Why You Should Wear A Wearable
There are many benefits of using fitness wearables:
• Motivation – Similar to a training logbook, knowing what your fitness objectives are for the day is enough to get you fired up for the challenges that lie ahead. And these devices can be pricey! Buying one should be considered an investment on health that will pay out dividends over the long haul.
• Discipline – Most people will agree that the most difficult part of a health and fitness program is the diet. Fitness wearables have the capacity to track you calorie consumption, measure your required macronutrients and calculate a meal plan for the day. It will go a long way in keeping you within the parameters of the diet.
• Performance – Even if variances exist between fitness wearables, the important thing is that physical activity is being undertaken. You can track your distance covered under a specific time and use that as a benchmark to beat the next time.
Everyone regardless of sport and fitness orientation will benefit from this data. Fitness wearables make training more efficient, effective and productive.
What Are The Best Fitness Wearables?
Here is a rundown of the five best fitness wearable for 2016:
1. Misfit Ray – This device tracks your steps, calories burned, quality of sleep plus the unique quality of tracking different activities such as swimming, yoga and soccer. It has a very elegant and stylish design that makes it compatible with sophisticated evening wear!
2. X Metrics Fit and Pro – Whereas most fitness wearables were designed primarily for running, X Metrics Fit and Pro focuses on swimming. Using real-time audio feedback, swimmers will have access to data to analyse their technique.
3. FitBit Blaze – This is the latest incarnation of FitBit and combines a fitness tracker with the functions of a smart watch. In addition to its standard features, FitBit Blaze has a Personal Trainer application which coaches you during workout sets plus gives you updates on calendar appointments and messages!
4. Moov Now – Your wrist-based personal trainer, Moov Now covers a wide range of physical activity from running, swimming, walking, biking and boxing. It will coach you, calculates your ideal number of sets and reps and gives you detailed workout summaries.
5. Garmin Vivoactive HR – This fitness wearable is designed for both outdoor and indoor use. It has a GPS feature which means it does not have to be constantly connected to a smart phone device. Similar to FitBit Blaze, it can also double as a smart watch.
The demand for fitness wearables will continue to rise commensurate with the increase in demand for smart phones. Future generations will grow to be increasingly dependent on technology because the focus will be on the efficient maximisation of time.
Regardless of how far technology advances, it can never control time. We’ll always have 24 hours in a day and technology helps us manage our time for greater efficiency.
With technology on your side, you’ll have more time for work and family. With fitness wearables, you’ll have more time for exercise!
How Technology In Fitness Is Changing Lives
Technology in fitness has made getting fitter and healthier more efficient and convenient. Everyday necessities such as phones and watches have evolved into “smart devices” helping you track just about every aspect of your health.
Who would have thought 15 years ago that a mobile phone could become your office away from work or that a watch would tell time as well as the number of steps you’ve taken in a day?
Given the exponential growth of the Internet and the development of mobile devices in the new millennium, it was really only a matter of time before technology found its way into the world of fitness.
There were already tell-tale signs in gyms and fitness centers. A study by LifeFitness showed that fitness and technology were starting to merge prior to 2012. According to the study, as of 2012 there were more than 10,000 fitness mobile apps in the market. 72% of trainers used a form of technology in the gym.
Of the participants in the study, 57% regularly brought mobile devices in the gym but only because 1/3 could not connect them to the equipment. In fact, 1/3 would switch memberships to another gym that had WIFI or docking stations.
What is the significance of 2012? It was the year before the sales of the desktop PC started declining in favor of mobile devices.
By 2014, 60% of online traffic was coming from mobile devices particularly the smart phone. By 2020, the number of smart phones operating worldwide is expected to hit 6.1 Billion.
Technology companies and app makers recognise the growing market for the smart phone which further validated the increasing dependence of the consumer on technology. Put it this way, if you need a watch to tell you it’s time to move it just goes to show you how technologically dependent today’s generation has become.
But is technology in fitness a bad thing?
Technology is a by- product of man’s ingenuity. How technology will serve you will depend on your purpose and your approach to using it. Generally, technology in fitness will greatly help you achieve your goals to become fit and healthy.
Technology Has Made Fitness Tracking More Accurate
Do you want to burn fat without losing muscle mass? When doing cardio, you shouldn’t exceed 65% of your maximum heart rate. In the days before technology, the method was to count the number of pulses on your wrist for six seconds then multiply the number by 10 seconds.
Today with fitness trackers and fitness watches you can find out with accuracy your current heart rate without losing a step.
The same goes for knowing how many kilometers you’ve run so far. If you’re training for a 10km race and need to run five 2km intervals, you have a fitness tracker that can measure distance accurately.
Knowing your target numbers will keep your progress at pace with the program. It decreases the risks of over-training and under-performing.
Technology Has Made Dieting More Precise
Before mobile fitness apps were introduced to the public, people who wanted to lose weight were taught how to “eyeball” their food. The correct portion size for steak should not be larger than a deck of cards. One half cup of rice is equivalent to one handful of rice. 28 grams of nuts is equivalent to four dice.
Today, mobile apps such as MyFitnessPal allow you to track every calorie you are eating through its searchable data base.
This app takes information about your weight and weight loss goals to establish your target calories. Another popular mobile app is LoseIt! which also has a calorie tracker and a more navigable food diary feature.
Technology Can Motivate You
Lack of motivation also happens even to the most experienced trainers. Whether it is due to stress or fatigue, there are days that you are not just feeling well physically, emotionally or mentally.
A phone call to a friend or training partner could work but wouldn’t it be better to get in touch with your community? Tap into your social media circle of friends who are into fitness. Share your thoughts and feelings and get their inputs on how to get yourself going.
Sometimes all we need is a bit of a push to get ourselves back on track. Most of the time, these apprehensions you feel on training days are just your fears and self- limiting beliefs rearing their ugly heads.
A strong support group can help you overcome these fears and follow through with the day’s planned training session.
Technology Can Make You Perform Better
Do you feel your shins hurting more after every running session? Is your Plantar Fasciitis getting worse by the day? It could be your running form or the shoes you wear for training. There are wearables in the market that can give you information on the way you run including data on stride length and how your foot strikes the ground.
Do you want to know if you are over-training in your weight lifting sessions?
Invest in a chest strap which measures recovery times in between sets of heavy lifting. This way you’ll know how hard you are pushing yourself in the gym.
Technology Can Make Your Workouts Safer
Once you start exercising and begin to see improvements, the hardest thing to do is to stop. There are some people who keep on training even if physically, their body is slowly breaking down.
Fitness wearables have features to monitor your training load and recommend the optimal times for rest and recovery. Wearables can help you design a warm up and warm down program to help your body recover faster from the rigors of your workouts.
While technology has made fitness more efficient and convenient as life and work, it has not made the physical training itself easier. But when you’re seeing your progress improve each day, it can certainly help keep you motivated to keep pushing for even better results tomorrow!
Why Do I Need A Fitness App?
The smart phone has become our most indispensable device. Everything that we need to do in life and work is stored in our smart phones as an app.
An app is a program designed to manage specific tasks. From project management to hailing a cab, there is an app for every function. If you want to be healthy, there are fitness apps.
And these are designed to boost your exercise results!
The History Of Apps
Many people trace the history of the app to 2008 with the launch of the App Store. But the first app was produced in the 1980’s. Those who were around in the 1980’s, may remember the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X.
This is generally considered as the first commercially available cell phone. It was referred to as “The Brick” because of its thick 33.02cm x 4.45cm x 8.89 cm dimensions and it weighed in at 1.1kgs. It had a built-in software application which managed simple contacts listings in its operating system.
The demand for mobile phones was growing and manufacturers wanted to differentiate their products in the market by including gaming applications such as “Tetris”, “Snake” and “Pong”.
As consumers became more mobile dependent, developers started to shift their focus toward functional applications. By the new millennium, companies such as Apple and Samsung started to open up their operating systems to accommodate third party software developers.
They were heading toward the implementation of smart technology. When the App Store was launched in 2008 it had 500 apps. By 2013, it had 900,000 apps.
Among the types of apps offered, the fitness apps were held in particular interest because according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, these required its user to share the highest amount of personal information.
Yet despite these privacy issues, people continue to download fitness apps because they help achieve health and fitness goals.
What Is A Fitness App?
Fitness apps are software programs designed to support your health and fitness program. They provide many functions from creating exercise programs, recording your progress, analysing data, track calorie consumption, design diet plans and monitor quality of sleep among others.
For the fitness or health conscious mother, there are fitness apps available that can track baby’s sleeping patterns, feeding schedule and nursing habits or why baby prefers the left breast to the right breast!
Apps have made it possible for consumers to receive information in real time. This is important in fitness because now you have available data to use as reference to institute improvements in your training program and diet plan.
How Do Fitness Apps Work?
Fitness apps are downloaded on your smart phone. But they do not need Internet access to operate. This makes fitness apps convenient for people who train in different locations and use a variety of methodologies.
To make these fitness apps work and become productive, you should be consistent in uploading and updating data. Apps are data-driven; everything that you want an app to do will depend on the data that it has to work with.
According to Albert Lee, CEO of MyFitnessPal fitness app, the goal of a fitness app developer is to make tracking as easy as possible for its user. For Lee, you can accomplish your fitness goals if you can track your progress consistently and accurately.
Fitness apps can also be integrated with fitness wearables. MyFitnessPal has aligned its services with more than 80% of the available fitness wearables and devices in the market.
Again it is all about data; updating, tracking and benchmarking.
Why Do You Need A Fitness App?
There are many benefits to using a fitness app:
Set SMART Fitness Goals – Fitness apps ability to track, measure and calculate can help you develop SMART goals. SMART is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Having these qualities makes your fitness goals achievable.
Track Progress – With a fitness app, you are no longer clueless on how you are progressing in your workouts. A fitness app can do this because the data you provide will establish your fitness baseline.
Access To Many Fitness Programs – A Personal Trainer may prove to be expensive for most people. Yoga and Pilates classes are quite costly. But there are fitness apps that will give you access to a variety of fitness programs with very little cost.
Monitor Your Diet – For many, the battle for health and fitness is won or lost by your ability to maintain a healthy diet. Fitness apps can grant you access to a data base with valuable nutritional information on millions of food varieties. You can use this as a reference before making your food choices.
Customize Your Own Program – With all of this information plus the data collected on your past and current performance, you would have the tools necessary to customise your own fitness program.
Should You Hire A Personal Trainer Or Get A Fitness App?
Whether you are an experienced in fitness or a beginner eager to get healthier or fitter, it is always good advice to have guidance. Personal Trainers are certified and experienced to provide professional advice to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
Not only can they design workout programs and diet plans but they will guide you throughout the routine to ensure you are practicing good form and technique. A Personal Trainer can also give you valuable feedback on your progress, your exercise form and help you assess deficiencies in your training.
A fitness app can do most of these tasks for you. And it will not cost you much. But it’s a different experience entirely, so in essence, they two should not be compared to each other.
What Are The Best Fitness Apps?
DigiFit i Cardio – This is the fitness app for the stat-heavy trainer. If you have a heart rate monitor, this app will accentuate its value regardless of the type or level of activity. Not only does DigiFit I Cardio track your heart rate but it also measures distance.
Endomondo – If you like working out in the outdoors, Endomondo is the fitness app for you. It can track cycling, running and hiking activities with accuracy. It comes with training plans and a coaching feature for the paid subscription.
FitStar – If you are constantly on the road with no access to a local gym then you may wish to download this app. No weight machines are needed for these programs. The free version will give you the “Basic” program. Paid subscriptions will get you the “Get Strong” and “Get Lean” workouts.
JeFit Workout – The perfect app for the logbook- carrying gym member. This app has tools to help you design weight-lifting workouts and allows you to upload details of your workout session. You can log you sets, reps, total weight lifted and schedule for workouts in the days ahead.
MyFitnessPal – Gives you access to many tools for tracking your exercise progress and diet including the amount of calories your burn per activity. The calorie counter is reputed for being the easiest to manage with the largest data base for food and drink.
These are just some of the best fitness apps in the market. Remember there are hundreds and thousands more in the App Store. Take the time to select your app before you download it on your smart phone. For sure, it will take your exercise program to a whole new level!
Fitness Trackers For Beginners To Experts
Fitness trackers are everywhere. And not just in the gym. People wear them in the office, while shopping for groceries or heading off to school. Many look futuristic while some look fashionable.
People have various reasons for using them but when used for exercise, fitness trackers can take your training to the next level.
What Is A Fitness Tracker?
A fitness tracker is a digital wearable device that has been designed to record data on your lifestyle which can be used to improve fitness levels and calculate macro-nutrient and calorie requirements to support a healthy diet.
Most fitness trackers carry the basic features such as counting the number of steps you take per day and total distance traveled by walking.
But other fitness trackers are differentiated by their unique functions such as measuring the quality of sleep and monitoring heart rate to determine stress levels.
How Do Fitness Trackers Work?
The primary objective of a fitness tracker is to collect data on your specific activities and rate of movements every day. Therefore in order to get the most out of your fitness tracker you must wear it constantly.
There are trackers that are worn on the wrist and some have to be clipped on your clothing. The more data you provide the fitness tracker the greater the benefits you derive from it.
Fitness Trackers contain an accelerometer which measures movement on three points: start of movement, end of movement and intensity of movement.
A fitness tracker like Jawbone UP! has a counter-balance located within two electrically charged plates. At rest, the counter- balance is in the middle. But once the user starts moving, the counter- balance shifts from one plate to the other. Sensors record this activity as movement data.
Why You Need A Fitness Tracker
A fitness tracker is a valuable tool to help you stay connected with your health and fitness goals. Do you know why “to lose weight” is the most popular and most broken New Year’s Resolution?
It is because the people who resolve to do it are not held accountable for it.
People proclaim they want to lose weight at the start of every New Year because they identify the New Year with a new chapter but not a new lifestyle. They maintain a program from 1-2 months then drift away from it just like the previous year.
When you have a fitness tracker that you have to put on everywhere you go, it becomes a constant reminder of what you need to do.
How Can Fitness Tracker Help You Achieve Your Goals?
Generally, there are two types of people who use fitness trackers. The first type is the regular fitness person who wants to improve his or her performance level by constantly referring to the collected data.
The second type is the person who has been advised by his or her physician to increase the level of physical activity to overcome an existing medical condition. Regardless of your purpose for using a fitness tracker, studies have shown they can contribute to achieving your health and fitness goals.
A study conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center followed the lifestyles of 123 test subjects who were overweight or obese post- menopausal women and followed a health and fitness program for one year.
The women were asked to track and record their diet and exercise numbers. At the end of the first year, all of the women lost 19% of their starting body weight.
A fitness tracker allows you to record data on food intake and exercise performance. Constantly reviewing or referencing these data gives you a sense of accountability to your health and fitness goals.
Another study by Kaiser Permanente shows that the simple act of tracking your diet can help a person double his or her weight loss.
For the regular fitness person, a fitness tracker offers many benefits:
- Provides valuable information on exercise performance and keep track of progress. If you ran 5 kms in 30 minutes last month, you could review the programs you did and improve on them so you can lower your time to 27 minutes this month.
- Reduces the risk of injury by providing information on exercise technique and execution. For runners there are fitness trackers such as Smart Socks that collect data on heel strike and stride length which is valuable in making adjustments to technique and minimise injuries.
- A fitness tracker can become a good source of motivation for a number of reasons. First, reviewing data can show you how far you have progressed in your quest to become fitter and healthier. And second, having accessible data gives you valuable reference points on how to improve and get better.
What Are The Best Fitness Trackers In The Market?
Here are some of the best fitness trackers:
1. FitBit Charge HR – If comes with an auto- detect exercise feature which means it can tell if you’re cycling or running. The watch style strap is also snug, yet comfortable assuring you it will stay on during vigorous physical activity.
2. Microsoft Band 2 – Features 11 sensors including a barometer to measure altitude an accurate heart rate sensor, gyroscope and GPS which means you can use this for outdoor activities like golf. It also includes Cortana integration through Windows.
3. UA Band – This fitness tracker is a collaboration between athletic apparel maker Under Armour and tech company HTC. It is lightweight and has a cohesive design and a highly responsive touch screen.
4. Garmin Vivofit 2 – It has everything a fitness tracker should have: lightweight, waterproof and inexpensive. Best of all, the Garmin Vivofit 2 has a battery life exceeding one year.
5. Jawbone UP! – A recognized name among fitness trackers the Jawbone UP! series measures the number of steps, quality of sleep and keeps track of your calories
These fitness trackers are an investment to your health. When you spend hard earned money to purchase one of these things it firms up your commitment to become healthier and fit.
Here are other features you would find in a fitness tracker…
1. Tracking Capabilities
In addition to movement, fitness trackers also track other activities.
- Number Of Steps
- Heart Rate
Not all of these features are available in every fitness tracker in the market. For example, the Mio Fuse has a heart rate monitor but not a sleep tracker. The Misfit Flash Link does not have a heart rate monitor but includes a sleep tracker.
The more features your fitness tracker has, the higher the price. So you have to determine which features would play a more significant role in helping you achieve your health and fitness goals.
The best fitness tracker for you is one that you can readily access with your smart phone, desk top or other devices.
Here is a rundown of a few popular fitness trackers in the market and the level of compatibility of these devices:
- FitBit – PC, Mac, iOS, Windows Phone, Web
- Basis Peak – Android, iOS, Web
- Garmin Vivoactive – Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
- TomTom Spark Cardio + Music – Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
- Mio Alpha 2 – Android, iOS
Not all fitness trackers are worn on the wrist. Some can be placed inside your pocket or clipped unto an undergarment. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages. With a clip on, you have the advantage of being inconspicuous but you can easily forget about it when you change clothes.
With a wrist worn fitness tracker, it can be bulky, uncomfortable when typing and some may not look fashionable but the chances of misplacing it are much less.
- Wrist – FitBit Surge, Basis Peak, Garmin Vivosmart
- Clip On – FitBit Zip, Jawbone Move Up!, Runtastic Orbit
Since you will be wearing a fitness tracker for 24 hours a day, it has to something that you are comfortable with and have no problem using.
Here are a few convenience points you should consider:
- Display – LED indicator lights, LCD screen, AMOLED screen
- Water Resistant, GPS – Perfect if you like outdoor activities
- Battery Life – The less you have to charge it, the better. Good brands include: Runtastic Orbit at 10 days, Mio Fuse at 7 days and MisFit Flash Link at 6 months.
You can never overlook pricing. A fitness tracker is an investment but it has to an asset that you can afford.
Here is a shortlist of prices of popular fitness trackers:
- MisFit Flash Link – AUS$ 25
- Mio Fuse – AUS$ 133
- FitBit Charge HR – AUS$ 160
- FitBit Surge – AUS$ 285
- TomTom Spark Cardio + Music – AUS$ 295
Having A Fitness Tracker That Fits You
The biggest benefit anyone can get from a fitness tracker is that it sets the direction of your health and fitness program. It is true that nothing beats hard work and dedication to achieve success.
But when you have data as reference and a convenient way to track your progress, the path to accomplishing your health and fitness goals becomes clearer and easier to see.
6 Ways To Make The Most Of A Fitness Tracker
When the fitness tracker was first introduced to the market, many believed it was just a novelty item. Fitbit which was launched in 2007 reportedly almost went bankrupt seven times because of manufacturing problems.
If you talk to people who own one there is a 68% probability that it is a FitBit. People who are serious of getting healthy and fit are buying a fitness tracker. They’re no longer a novelty. If used properly it can help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
Here are my top 6 tips on how to maximise the benefits of the fitness tracker:
Tip #1: Update Your Mindset
The fitness tracker is a technological device that will support your health and fitness programs by providing you with important data to measure progress and performance.
But it will not do the workout for you.
A fitness tracker is an investment in a health and fitness lifestyle but you have to put in time for your exercise regimen and make the correct nutritional choices. What you have on your wrist is a wonderful technological innovation that allows you to track results.
Used properly it will help you accomplish your goals. But technology can never replace the inner drive and determination to overcome challenges and succeed.
Tip #2: Establish Your Own Goals
Most of the fitness trackers in the market have pre-set goals which are based on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation of 10,000 steps a day for health. But the fitness levels and current lifestyle of each individual will vary from another.
If 10,000 steps are on the high side for you, make adjustments on the goal settings.
Setting goals is an effective way of ensuring constant progress but these have to be realistic and attainable. If you set fitness goals that are so high you constantly miss them, your failures may only serve to discourage you.
Tip #3: Set Daily Challenges
A fitness tracker is a great way to have fun in your workouts. Nothing raises excitement in an activity than challenges because it sets a target for you have to focus and achieve. You are competing against yourself but that only increases the stakes even more.
Every time you beat a challenge, you take a step forward in your quest to become healthier and fitter. A daily challenge can be as simple taking 100 steps per hour or attaining 1,000 steps before lunchtime.
Tip #4: Join A Community
Maintaining a health and fitness lifestyle can be very difficult. We all have days where we cannot muster the energy and desire to exercise for one reason or the other. If the reason is medical then you should rest. But if it is mental or emotional, being part of a community will go a long way in getting you motivated.
There are fitness trackers with social community applications.
Staying in close communication with people who share your advocacy is an effective way to get yourself out of the doldrums. They will always find ways to bring you up and get you moving. And a community will help you stay committed to a healthy and fit lifestyle for the long run. Get your close friends and family involved.
Tip #5: Keep It On As Much As You Can
A fitness tracker works best when it is constantly fed data. All the information that is collected by the fitness tracker establishes your baseline. When data collection becomes inconsistent, the baseline becomes unreliable.
This is why you should keep the fitness tracker on your wrist as much as possible. People often remove their fitness tracker to charge it. The problem occurs when you rush out and forget it is still charging in its docket. You have lost one full day’s worth of data.
Perhaps one full day is not that bad. But if it keeps happening frequently, your baseline will have so many gaps the information will be unreliable.
Tip #6: Reward Yourself
Fitness trackers like FitBit have a reward system whenever you accomplish a pre-set goal. These rewards are great and motivational but eventually as the challenges get harder and the stakes higher, it may be a good idea to improve the rewards as well.
Set weekly targets in order to make the challenges larger and more daunting.
If you accomplish the challenge, put $10 in a glass jar. Every week thereafter, increase the challenge by 10% to 20%.
If you accomplish the challenge add 10% to 20% to the glass jar.
If you accomplish all the weekly challenges, by the end of the month you should have almost $20 in the jar.
Now comes the fun part: Treat yourself to a bit of indulgence! In many ways a fitness tracker is like having a fitness buddy who will never let you down. It will give back to you as much as you put in.
Fitness Bands And The New Fitness Generation
Two men walk inside a gym.
One is in his mid 40’s. He has a towel and a water bottle.
The second man is in his 20’s.
He has a towel, a shaker bottle, a tablet and a fitness band on his left wrist.
As the older man starts to warm up, the younger one opens the tablet, sets his fitness band, adjusts the compression knee sleeves and Sensoria Smart Sock Fitness Tracker.
Old Generation meets the New Fitness Generation. Old Generation scratches his head.
It may have started out like a joke but fitness is anything but. Regardless of generation gap, people are becoming more serious about fitness.
The global health and wellness industry is worth more than US$4.2 Trillion as of 2018 and is expected to continue growing through to 2024.
There is a correlation between the popularity of fitness bands and the evolution of digital technology. The younger generation; specifically those from Generation Y and Z are more attuned to technology than those from Generation X.
The younger generation of fitness enthusiasts or the new fitness generation is capitalising on the benefits of technology because this is what they grew up with. They grew up at a time when information can be immediately accessed with a touch of a keypad and everything can be recorded and measured in real time.
For them, the older generation seems like another lifetime!
What Were The Old School Methods Of Fitness Tracking?
“Back in the day….”
That is how the older generation would normally frame their experiences during their time. People born in 1966 would use only two items to track their fitness: a stop watch and a notebook. However, some have started to embrace technology.
According to a survey by Connected Intelligence Consumers and Wearables Report, 69% of the fitness wearables market is from the 18 to 34 demographic. Those from the 35 to 55 age bracket account for only 30% of the market.
But the interesting side of the report is that 41% of those who owned a fitness band from the 35 to 55 age bracket earned more than US$100,000 per year and that 54% were women.
According to the study, the older users did not find much value to the fitness bands except for tracking the number of steps and recording calories. Thus, even with the new features of fitness bands, the older generation prefers to stick it out with old school methods.
Many still carry logbooks to the gym to record their workouts. For them, writing creates a stronger link between mind and body. They remember and are able to process information better with pen and paper than a virtual notepad.
What Are Fitness Bands?
Fitness bands are wearable technology. These are designed to record data on movement to create a baseline on physical activity. Fitness bands all start with the same two objectives: measure and manage.
Fitness bands will help you track movement, sleep patterns and calories. You can then upload all of this information online and get analysis, advice and receive community support.
The fitness bands in the market differ in how the information is gathered and how these are analysed for your benefit.
How Do Fitness Bands Work?
Many fitness bands operate with the use of an accelerometer; a device that measures movement through the use of two electrically charged plates. It has a counter-balance that shifts according to the level of activity.
When the user is at rest the counter- balance remains in the middle. But once the user starts moving, the counter- balance shifts between the two plates. Sensors detect and record the data.
Each fitness band has its own algorithm to process the data and provide analysis. This is where the differences in readings happen.
If you use a FitBit you may get higher readings in your step count compared to a Nike FuelBand. Thus, when you decide to buy a fitness band know one very important fact: fitness bands are not 100% accurate.
Because fitness bands are designed to record movement as the baseline for physical activity, data can be affected by unintentional action and excessive gestures.
If you’re a runner, data can be affected by stride length. If you shift from the longer stride length favoured by Europeans to the shorter but quicker running cadence of the Japanese, there will be a marked change in your number of strides.
Why Should You Use A Fitness Band?
So despite these inaccuracies and inconsistencies in readings, should you still use a fitness band?
Even if variances exist in data recording, the important thing is you have a baseline for physical activity. A baseline provides you a reference point to track your progress.
If you tracked 10,000 steps in 45 minutes that provides your baseline for your next objective which is to shorten the time required to complete 10,000 steps. Second, recording data keeps you honest in your fitness goals and objectives.
This is especially true when it comes to staying true to your diet plan. With a fitness band, you can keep watch over what you eat and have an immediate reference on the food you can eat whenever you dine out.
Finally, a fitness band keeps you committed to a life of health and fitness. For these fitness bands to work, you must record data every day. This will eventually become a habit which will make you more disciplined in meeting your goals.
What Are The Best Fitness Bands In The Market?
1. FitBit Surge – This has continuous heart rate monitoring and comes with a built- in GPS. You can use this for Yoga and weight lifting workouts plus outdoor activities such as hiking. It can also provide you with notifications on incoming texts and calls.
2. Basis Peak – This fitness band has a fully automated activity detection feature and includes heart rate and skin temperature readings. Basis Peak is water- proof for up to 50 meters.
3. Garmin Vivoactive – This device has excellent battery life and comes with a slim ad sleek design. It is water- proof, has a built- in GPS and can track a variety of activities.
4. TomTom Spark Cardio + Music – For those who can’t train without music, this device plays your tunes without your phone. It is also water- proof, lightweight, has an accurate heart rate monitor and can track a number of activities.
5. Mio Fuse – It has an optical heart rate monitor which you can use for gym workouts and outdoor training. It is water- proof and measures time, steps, distance, calories burned and heart rate during training.
There is a fitness band to suit your type of physical activity. Before deciding to buy one, identify your purpose and have a plan on how to go about your health and fitness program.
What You Need To Know About Fitness Watches
For years, Dick Tracy’s “Two Way Wrist Watch Radio” became a symbol; albeit slightly comical, of what the future of technology held for humankind.
But as digital technology evolved, so did the functionality of the conventional wrist watch. It was no longer just a device used to tell time. It morphed with the ability to calculate, measure speed and now to track fitness.
Fitness watches are now with us which means it’s time to ramp up your training!
What Is A Fitness Watch?
The fitness watch is a natural evolution of the fitness wearable; devices that you attach to your wrist or clothing for the purpose of measuring, tracking and calculating activities related to a health and fitness program.
The fitness watch itself has evolved from clunky design to a sleeker, more streamlined and fashionable look. The evolution of the fitness watch is a response to the increasing demand for fitness wearables.
It is estimated that the fitness wearable industry will grow at a compound annual rate of 35% from 2015 to 2020. Sales are expected to grow from 33 million units in 2015 to 148 million units in 2019.
The smart watch will be the number one selling wearable accounting for an estimated 41% of market share over the next five years. By 2019, the smart watch will cover 70% of global shipments.
How Do Fitness Watches Work?
Fitness watches vary in terms of design and function. Some have an accelerometer which records motion through an integrated counter- balance that shifts whenever it detects movement.
Some have to be connected with a smart phone where data can be uploaded and stored.
The key to using a fitness watch is you have to use them every day and second, you have to be honest and consistent with the data that you input. The purpose of the fitness watch is to collect data so you can develop a baseline for your physical activity.
Having this baseline gives you a definite reference point as to how you are progressing in your health and fitness program.
Why Should I Use A Fitness Watch?
The term “Fitness” has myriad definitions. For Apple, it means being “active throughout the day”.
Jawbone views fitness as a way to achieve “a better version of you”. For Microsoft, fitness means having “improved wellness”.
Obviously, these definitions read more like marketing copy to sell their products. The truth is there is no single, universal definition of fitness. The idea of fitness will vary from one person to the other.
A basketball player may not even finish a marathon but by the same token, a marathon runner may find himself lost or benched in a basketball game. Thus, before you purchase a fitness watch you should define what fitness is for you. As mentioned, these fitness watches are differentiated by their functionality.
Select the brand and model with the features that would support your fitness goals. At its most basic, these fitness watches can already ramp up your training. Most fitness trainers believe diet and nutrition is the hardest aspect of a health and fitness program.
It requires mental and emotional fortitude to remain true to your diet plan. Keeping track of what you eat on a daily basis will help you stay focused on your nutrition program.
Having ready access to your current level of activity will encourage you to move more in order to achieve a daily fitness goal. You can use this as your baseline number every day and the fitness watch will advise you on how close you are to accomplishing this goal.
What Are The Best Fitness Watches In The Market?
Motorola MotoActv – Generally regarded as the most user- friendly fitness watches in the market today. The Motorola MotoActv is part trainer and part music player. It provides workout programs for than 40 types of physical activity.
Polar RCX3 – Slim – styled provides valuable speed and heart rate data for runners and cyclists. It also gives post- training feedback.
Garmin Forerunner 910XT – Unlike the Polar RCX3, the Garmin Forerunner 910XT also provides speed and heart rate data for swimmers plus information on the number of strokes and distance.
Timex Ironman Run Trainer GPS – Designed for hardcore runners and cyclists, the Timex Ironman Run Trainer GPS is a great choice for those who favour interval training as it covers a wide range of parameters. It also has a nutrition alarm which goes off to remind the user it is time to rehydrate and eat.
Suunto Ambit – This is ideal for the high- altitude and outdoor trainer. The Suunto Ambit is waterproof and comes with a GPS, accelerometer, 3D compass and altimeter. It has a 50- hour battery life and recovery time calculator.
As Apple Founder the late Steve Jobs once said, “Pricing does not equate to quality”. You cannot possibly maximise the value of a US$500 fitness watch like the Suunto Ambit if you do not spend time outdoors or training in altitude.
There is a fitness watch for everyone. You just have to make sure of your goals and objectives when it comes to fitness.
I hope you’ve learned a lot about the various type of fitness tech that is available to help you track, analyse and improve your health and fitness goals.
I personally think the biggest advantage of using a fitness tracking device is how they can give you the motivation to exercise thanks to the visual picture they provide of your status and/or results in real-time.
We’re all inherently motivated by achieving. So by having an easy-to-access visual reference of our micro achievements, this can spur us on to achieving more. Small wins turn into big wins over the long term.
Motivation is best to come from within, but there’s nothing wrong with having a little help along the way. We’re only human 🙂
If you have any questions, please add it in the comments below and I’ll respond shortly…