Let Technology Take Your Fitness to the Next Level

Runner with Fitbit

Back in the day, keeping track of your fitness progress was a pretty manual thing. Depending on how in-depth you wanted to go, it could involve using a basic pedometer, taking your pulse, keeping track of everything in notebooks and spreadsheets, etc., etc. All of it required your time. You had to measure your stride to setup your pedometer, note what your workout involved, see what your heart rate got up to. Worth the effort if you were truly committed, but how many of us were? And how many of us still are?

Fitness trackers, one of the most popular forms of wearable technology, has changed all of that. Introduced just a few years ago, this advancement can help you take your fitness to the next level with ease. The only thing you need to do is make the actual purchase, setup your device online, and start using it. From there, your fitness tracker will remember everything and report your data back to you.

I have to admit that, despite the hype, I resisted these gadgets for quite some time. Did I really need one more electronic device in my world? But a couple of months ago curiosity got the better of me. I saw the Fitbit Charge HR on sale, and I decided to go for it. I’m so glad I did.

Since I’d spent the money, I was committed to using it right away. So when I got it home, I immediately dug into it. The hardest part was getting the silly plastic packaging open. Seriously. Once out of the package, I registered online. And I haven’t looked back.

The really cool thing about this tracker is that it allows you to set your own personal goals. It then reminds you of them and gives you a virtual pat on the back when you’ve accomplished them. For example, my tracker is automatically programmed with a goal of 10,000 steps each day (though you can adjust the number). When you reach the goal, the device not only gives you a buzz to let you know, but you also get an email in your inbox. These are called badges, and they really cheer you on. Kind of the modern-day version of scratch-n-sniff stickers for positive reinforcement. ☺

The weekly reports that I receive automatically let me know my most active day, least active day, daily average of steps taken, how many miles my steps equal, and how many floors of steps I’ve walked. It totally motivates me to do better each week.

Of course, the weekly report you receive is based on the device you purchase. Make sure you do some research on what you want to track and which devices offer the features you’re looking for. These gadgets come in many forms, from fitness trackers and smart watches to heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices. Be sure to get whatever will work for you rather than settle for what your neighbor is wearing.

There are some features available through my device that I haven’t even started using yet. I can set a weight goal and track my progress (through manual online entries). I can download the smart phone app to track my daily progress whenever I want. And I can connect with others in the virtual world to share and compare my results. These features could be beneficial down the road. But for now, honestly, the basics of tracking my steps, mileage, heart rate, etc. are all enough to keep me moving. With the sedentary life many of us have fallen into, we all need more movement to combat the consequences of too much sitting.

One feature I don’t think I’ll use anytime soon is the sleep tracker. While I’m a little curious about exactly what and how my device keeps track of such information, the idea of wearing it all night long isn’t very appealing. Heck, I don’t even like to sleep with my earrings on. But who knows, I could change my mind down the road.

The hands-off approach of this wearable technology can take your fitness to a completely new level. Keeping things simple is a key element of achieving optimal health in the face of our busy lifestyles.

Been considering buying any of this wearable technology but not sure which one to pick? Consumer Reports is always a fantastic, unbiased resource for figuring these things out.

If you’re just getting started down the well-being path, add the SRP Self-Health Starter Kit to your tool kit. You’ll be well on your way to your best health yet.

Already using one of these gadgets? Share your experience with the rest of us self-healthers to help us make an educated decision on our purchase.

Photo from iStock/grinvalds

Paula Widish

Paula Widish, author of Trophia: Simple Steps to Everyday Self-Health, is a freelance writer and self-healther. She loves nothing more than sharing tidbits of information she discovers with others. (Actually, she loves her family more than that—and probably bacon too.) Paula has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Relations and is a Certified Professional Life Coach through International Coach Academy.

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