We all know what a fitness tracker is but have most people actually looked at the potentially life extending features that go well beyond counting steps? Based on conversations I’ve had with people who claim to be into fitness, most have yet to enjoy the “real” benefits a fitness tracker can provide.
With humans so reliant on technology, I though it would be a no-brainer that fitness enthusiasts would use some form of it to help advance and measure their fitness level. Outside of counting steps, how do we best measure our health? We can watch what we eat, limit alcohol use, exercise regularly but how can this be quantified?
In this article, I am going to use the Fitbit Charge 5 as my example although the benefits will be the same through all Fitbit devices and very similar to competitors. I prefer Fitbit solely based on the number features, price point and appearance. I will touch on the features in my top 3 countdown but if your looking for GPS functionality, text messaging, phone notifications, using your watch to make purchases or playing music with Spotify, you can research more here. Otherwise, the price is less than $150 (often on sale for $130) which is very reasonable for something that is far more useful than a watch. It also has a vivid, touch screen color display that is easy to see in bright sunshine or the dark. This is a nice upgrade from the black and white Charge 4. These features aside, the following features are the real winners and ones that may just lead to a longer life!
- Time to Move
Simply put, most of us sit still way too much. Whether we work at a desk, spending too much free time watching tv or on our phones, our stationary lifestyle are a leading cause of obesity. It is a fact that most people consume far more calories than they burn and this is a problem. The heavier we get, the more strain on our joints and the more our heart needs to work. Being mobile is a gift and we need to appreciate that every single day.
This is were the fitness tracker comes into play. Fitbit will notify you to move. For example, I get a notification 10 minutes before the hour is up to move. This can be paired with step tracker and remind you to get your steps completed and keep your daily goal achievable.
I constantly find myself surprised when I get the alert of how little I moved in the past hour. Even though I do not use steps as a daily goal, I can still see that 35 steps in an hour is not enough. When that notification comes in, head to get a drink of water, use the restroom or walk in a circle. Just get your body in motion. This movement will help circulate blood, burn calories, provide needed break from a computer screen and maybe improve your diet by increasing your water intake. I believe this feature, along with counting steps is the beginning to being fully aware of just how sedentary we have become. Once your aware, you can change it!
- Zone Minutes
Have you ever wondered how much you burn when raking leaves or performing daily chores and shouldn’t this count toward your daily exercise goal? The answer is an emphatic yes! All exercise is good even if we do not typically define it as such. The Fitbit Charge 5 easily tracks your activity throughout the day and categories the data into different levels of exercise based on your heart rate. It groups these “zone minutes” into fat burn, cardio and peak and quantifies them with a score. Each day you can set a goal and not worry about the house chores going unnoticed.
The idea of tracking your zone minutes is the best way to set a realistic goal based on data and achieve it. There is no cheating with a lackluster workout just to check the box. Attendance in the gym is not enough to score points. This doesn’t mean you cannot have days off, which you should. Just simply select how many days your targeting for exercise. For those who are really active, you will be happily surprised at how much “exorcise” you get away from the health club. For those who are not so active, use this as motivation and with number 3 on the list, start training your body to move more regularly.
- Resting Heart Rate
Heart disease is a killer and there is no secret about it. Why then do we allow ourselves to abuse our most valuable muscle to the point where it can actually shorten our life? Not everything is avoidable and illnesses happen but avoiding what we can should be a priority for everyone. Using a fitness tracker like the Charge 5 will monitor your heart rate 24/7. What this equates to is a measurement of how hard your heart needs to work when you are doing nothing. In other words, when you are at rest, less beats per minute should be required.
The normal resting heart rate range for adults is 60-100. However, according to the American Heart Association, anything less than 80 decreases your risk for a heart attack. Knowing your score is a great way to set fitness goals and find motivation to get some exercise in. This does not need to be overwhelming but only you will know if, once you begin an exercise routine, your resting heart rate is getting better or not. Your goal should be to see improvement over a reasonable amount of time and then establish a lifestyle where it is maintained.
If your looking for more fitness tips try How to Create a Successful Home Workout Routine. Live long and Stay Strong!