Making lasting changes to your lifestyle is no easy feat. Many of us experience the same story. We set health goals and start with plenty of commitment. But before we know it, we’ve lost motivation and given up.
Popular fitness trackers, like Fitbit and Garmin, seek to curb this trend. Wearables have revolutionized consumer health by giving people access to their own health data in a streamlined and usable way.
Many people today are making essential life changes thanks to their fitness tracking devices. Wearables increase our self-awareness, help us shift our habits and keep us accountable to our goals. They could be the perfect solution along your health and wellness journey.
Which Metrics Can Wearables Track?
With the right tools, you can track just about any behavior you can think of. But when it comes to health, medical professionals agree there are a few basic elements to focus on if you want to get healthier.
While different devices measure different things, in general, activity trackers monitor the following key fitness metrics:
- Heart rate—both resting and active
- Step count
- Flights climbed
- Distance traveled
- Activity type and length
- Calories burned
While most activity trackers primarily track exercise levels, many devices also include sleep monitoring. Some specialized trackers can even help with specific health aspects such as:
- Blood glucose monitoring
- Fertility tracking
- UV exposure
Wearable technology is rapidly evolving, meaning we could eventually see them being used to monitor many other leading health risks.
A 2020 study found that wearables, like Fitbit, can help detect a SARS-CoV2 infection—the virus that leads to COVID-19.
Benefits of Wearing a Fitness Tracker and Tracking Nutrition
Research shows that activity tracking and nutrition tracking can be a great way to motivate people to improve their habits. To date, numerous studies have looked at how activity tracking is transforming people’s lives as they seek to take control of their health.
Here are some of the essential benefits of activity and lifestyle tracking:
1. Increase Self Awareness
The central benefit of tracking your activity, nutrition or any other health metric is that it increases your self-awareness. Psychologists tell us that most of our behavior is on auto-pilot, meaning we often aren’t consciously aware of what we’re doing.
As we strive to be healthier, we must know how much of our behavior is hidden so we can make targeted changes.
One of the major reasons why it’s important to cultivate self-awareness is because, as it turns out, we’re pretty bad at estimating the impact of our lifestyles. Not only do we tend to overestimate the amount of physical activity we get, but we also underestimate the number of calories we consume. This discrepancy can give us a false sense of accomplishment and eventually lead to disappointment when we don’t make the progress we think we should.
Wearable lifestyle trackers give us a more realistic insight into our habits, helping us make true progress.
2. Develop Healthier Habits
The major outcome of being more self-aware of our behaviors is that we can form better habits. Habit formation isn’t easy—it takes dedication and motivation, but it also requires monitoring.
Habits are needed to make lasting change.
A behavior can only shift when you train your brain to do something repeatedly. Whether it’s counting your calories, increasing your activity throughout the day or learning to meditate, habits are necessary if we want to get and stay healthy.
Activity trackers are habit-forming tools. With the information we get from the data they collect, and the supporting apps and reminders, we can integrate our new behaviors into our daily lifestyle.
3. Make Gradual Improvements
Consider this scenario: You set a lofty goal and make a rigorous new schedule to achieve it, only to lose motivation after a few days or weeks. Does this sound familiar?
The problem is that people try to make massive shifts overnight, adopting an all-or-none mindset toward their health goals. Significant and rapid changes are not sustainable. Instead, make incremental yet consistent changes to give yourself the best chance at lasting habits.
Having a small, daily goal motivates people to make it part of their way of life.
A 2015 clinical trial found that women who wore a Fitbit were exercising more often after 16 weeks compared to women who used simple pedometers. The chances of these women sticking to their new fitness lifestyle is higher because their behavior change occurred over several months, rather than through immediate and intense implementation.
Fitness trackers are designed for this approach. They help you keep your goals top-of-mind but don’t demand drastic action like crash diets or extreme fitness challenges do.
Disadvantages of Wearable Technology
While wearables help improve well-being and support people in making lasting change, they do have some possible drawbacks.
A 2019 study compared short-term, long-term and abandoned users of activity trackers to determine which factors predicted whether they would stick to using their tracker. Researchers found that compared to long-term users, short-term and former users of activity trackers primarily focused on competitiveness. Long-term users, however, were motivated by forming healthy habits and their desire to increase physical activity. Those who had abandoned using their tracker focused heavily on the quantity of daily activity and trying to beat their record.
In other words, without intrinsic motivation, people may not stick to using their health tracker after the gadget’s novelty wears off.
Wearables also raise questions about how accurate the data is. In a review of 67 studies, researchers found discrepancies in Fitbit tracking accuracy, including overestimating the step count and how much time was spent in high-intensity activities.
Additionally, activity trackers tend to come with lots of bells and whistles, and most people don’t use all of them, preferring only a few key features. The sheer overwhelm of options can cause people to tune out the fundamental features of the device and eventually get rid of it altogether.
Wearables are a great support tool but shouldn’t be considered a health panacea—they aren’t a substitute for professional healthcare. Many people also need help from experts like registered dieticians and personal trainers who can help them personalize their health plans.
Increasing Activity and Reducing Sedentary Living
While health tracking devices have their pros and cons, one undeniable outcome of using an activity tracker is that people tend to decrease their sedentary time and increase their active time after using these devices.
According to the CDC, 25% of U.S. adults don’t get enough daily exercise.
Sedentary living is a serious health threat to the modern worker—it increases risks of blood clots, stroke and heart disease and can lead to diabetes and obesity. It can also affect mental health—people who are less active experience higher rates of depression and anxiety.
Because sedentary work is so ingrained into daily life, many of us may not even be aware of just how inactive we really are. An activity tracker breaks through the doubt, showing how your activity levels fluctuate throughout the day.
One of the simplest features of an activity tracker is the step counter, which helps you monitor your activity so you can increase it each day without much effort.
Increased steps can be more important for your health than you realize. A 2020 study found that people who took at least 8,000 steps per day had a lower risk of mortality from several common diseases.
With fitness trackers, we can reverse our sedentary lifestyles. Change starts with awareness, and an activity tracker can be the mindfulness tool you need to make lasting improvements.
Increasing Mindful Health and Well-Being
It’s possible to make long-term changes to our well-being with the right tools to increase self-awareness and shift behavior. All over the world, people are taking control of their health—increasing their activity levels, preventing illness and improving their lives for good.
If you want to adopt a more mindful lifestyle that supports your well-being, choose Relax The Back for your daily health solutions. Relax The Back provides customers with tools that optimize well-being and promote important lifestyle changes for the better.