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How to Get the Most From Your Fitness Tracker Blog Post

How to Get the Most From Your Fitness Tracker

One of the best parts about attempting to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle in our current age is the workout equipment and technology that’s now easily accessible to everyone. Scientists have made some significant advances in the medical field to treat diseases and ailments, and with that comes some essential pieces of technology to encourage us and track our fitness journeys.

From Apple to Garmin, it seems like every company makes their own version of a fitness tracker. With the right habits and know-how, you can use your fitness tracker to make great improvements to your health and reach your fitness goals faster. 

Types of Fitness Trackers

There are plenty of different types of workout equipment fitness trackers on the market, and if you’re looking into purchasing a fitness tracker for the first time, consider that each option has pros and limitations. Each piece of workout equipment is available from multiple brands.

1. Clip-on

Fitness tracker clip on with treadmill screen in background

Clip-on fitness trackers are a basic piece of workout equipment that you attach to your clothing. These fitness trackers count the approximate steps you take and then calculate the distance you’ve traveled. Clip-on fitness trackers might be the right tracker for you if you are looking for a basic piece of workout equipment to help you track and achieve the WHO recommended 10,000 steps per day.

2. Watch

Man and woman with apple watches displaying their heartrate

Watch fitness trackers are, by far, the most common form of fitness tracker workout equipment. Watch fitness trackers are available from countless companies, and range from basic fitness trackers, like the clip-on trackers, to advanced smartwatch fitness trackers. The most popular and trusted brands of smartwatch fitness tracker combos are Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin.

The more advanced workout equipment watches track steps, other movements, activity, workouts, GPS location, and heart rate. Most of these watches come with a corresponding app that allows you to track your workouts manually.

Watch fitness trackers are great for people that are looking for more accurate readings from their workouts and calorie output, and the GPS feature is excellent for those that enjoy running and cycling. 

3. Chest Strap

Shirtless man adjusting chest strap on chest

Chest straps are a piece of workout equipment that measures your physical exertion by tracking your heart rate. Chest strap fitness trackers are the most accurate way to track your heart rate as they measure your heart's beats as close to the source as possible, as opposed to wrist fitness trackers, which measure the downstream flow of blood. Wrist fitness trackers with a heart rate monitor have a variable accuracy between 15 to 34 beats per minute, and the accuracy tends to decrease with higher intensity exercise.

The downside of chest strap workout equipment is that you don’t typically wear it throughout the day, so for measuring daily steps on top of your workouts, this fitness tracker is not ideal. However, suppose you are interested in the most accurate fitness tracker workout equipment to measure your heart rate and calorie output during your workouts. In that case, you might want a chest strap fitness tracker. These pieces of workout equipment can be 99.6% accurate.

4. Ring

Woman holding smartphone displaying workout data

Yes, there are workout equipment rings and not the silicone wedding band kind. Ring fitness trackers measure your heartbeat, sleep, and other factors essentially the same way a wrist fitness tracker does. While many innovative pieces of workout equipment tend to make a big splash and gradually fizzle out, rings might be the future of wearable fitness tracker workout equipment.

Whichever piece of wearable workout equipment you chose to track your movement, choose one with a heart rate monitor. Unless, of course, you’re only interested in the bare basics and not spending a lot of cash.

As the most popular wearable workout equipment is a watch or smartwatch, let's talk about using your wristwatch fitness tracker.

How to Use a Wrist Fitness Tracker

When you receive your new piece of workout equipment, the first step is to set up your profile and personalize your app and device, if applicable. On the accompanying app, input your gender, age, height, and weight. These factors help your fitness tracker improve accuracy on things like stride-length, and calories burned. Adding in your activity level and your height and weight will help your tracker calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate. Your BMR is the base level of calories your body requires to function while at rest.

If applicable, you will also want to set your goals in the app. This way, you have a one-stop-shop place to look when monitoring your progress and your fitness journey.

Wear your wrist fitness tracker on your non-dominant hand. Your dominant hand is the one you write and perform the most activity with, and your non-dominant hand is the other hand. You move your dominant hand much more frequently than you move your non-dominant hand, so wearing your fitness tracker on the hand that’s moving more often can potentially result in inaccurate step counts and skewed data.

Seven Tips for Making the Most of Your Fitness Tracker

Now that we’ve covered the basics of using your workout equipment, let's talk about the best ways to make the most out of your fitness tracker. By following these seven steps, you’ll be well on your way to maintaining a consistently balanced life and achieving your fitness goals.

1. Wear it as much as possible

Man wearing orange watch while touching side of it

Much like stepping foot in the gym doesn’t make you fit; neither does all the workout equipment in the world if you don’t use it. If you’re new to this kind of workout equipment, one of the most challenging parts is remembering to wear it. It's essential to consciously build the habit, so only take your wrist tracker off when you have to.

If you’re not used to wearing something on your wrist, it may take some time to get used to it. You might have to play around with the band and adjust how tight it is at different times. For example, you want the watch snug on your wrist while you exercise, but you may find it's more comfortable to loosen up the strap a bit at night when you sleep.

Follow the directions for your specific workout equipment, as some are water-proof and others have some resistance, but should be removed when you bathe.

2. Set a charging routine

Watch and AirPods on charging station

Undoubtedly, the worst part about fitness trackers is that you have to take them off to charge. Anytime you take the watch off, it presents an opportunity to forget to put it back on, so it’s best to have a set routine and location in which you charge your watch. It should be somewhere, like the kitchen counter, that you walk by frequently and will remember to put it back on your wrist when it’s charging is complete.

3. Log your food

Tracking how many calories you’re burning throughout the day and during your workouts is cool, but that information is pretty useless if you aren’t aware of your intake of calories.

Woman holding lemon in front of basket of fruit while logging it on phone

Remember that gaining or losing weight comes down to calorie expenditure. To gain weight, you must consume more calories than you burn. To lose weight, you have to consume fewer calories than your body burns. The best way to track this information, and get quicker results, is to track your food in addition to your calorie output.

Some fitness tracker watches and apps include a food log, or you can always use a third-party app like My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal is a free application that can integrate with a lot of fitness tracker apps.  Many food tracking apps can help you keep track of your calories and macros like protein, carbs, and fat. Your profile and goals will help to determine your macro split.

4. Take calories burned with a grain of salt.

Wrist trackers are super convenient, but there are limitations. Because of the distance from the heart and various other factors, the heart rate monitor is not 100% accurate. For this reason, the calories burned can have a variable of up to 15%. Your best bet is to subtract about 15% of the calories burned and go from there to consume more or fewer calories.

Fitness activity displayed on Apple Watch

To do this, simply multiply your calories burned by .15, then subtract that amount from your calories burned. For example:

If you’ve burned 2,500 calories in a day, take:

2,500 x .15 = 375

Then, subtract:

2,500 - 375 = 2,125

Assume you burned 2,125 calories that day, to err on the safe side.

5. Be consistent

Using your tracker consistently while you work out and while you go about your day is crucial for the tracker to measure things like VO2 max and your habits to give you a clearer overall view of your health and fitness.

Man in running stance getting ready to run with watch on

The VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize while exerting physical exercise. You can use this measurement to determine how physically fit your cardiovascular system is. We measure it in milliliters of oxygen consumed in one minute, per kg of body weight.

To measure your VO2 max accurately, you would wear a mask and a heart rate monitor and be hooked up to a treadmill or a stationary bike. A machine collects and measures the amount of oxygen you inhale, and the volume of air you exhale. The test includes slowly increasing activity intensity until your oxygen consumption levels off. That plateau of oxygen intake indicates your body has moved from aerobic metabolism to anaerobic metabolism, which means your body is not using oxygen to break down carbs, proteins, and fats anymore.

As you can see, the most accurate VO2 max test is complex and requires expensive machinery. Fitness trackers make an educated guess on your VO2 max by utilizing your personal information, heart rate, and pace of a run lasting ten minutes or more. The more you exercise with your fitness tracker, the closer your VO2 max will be to accuracy; however, you should still allow for a margin of error.

6. Update progress

As you make progress or suffer setbacks, it’s essential to update your progress through your tracking app. If your weight has changed, it changes the accuracy of your calorie measurements and other factors. So as your body changes, be sure to keep your tracker in the loop.

Keeping track of your progress is a great way to stay motivated, whether or not you’re meeting your goals. Let it encourage you to keep trying and keep going.

7. Find fitness friends

Two girls smiling after workout and looking at watch

Many apps like Fitbit make it easy to connect with friends that also use a Fitbit. This way, you can engage in friendly competitions to motivate each other. In our current Covid-19 state, it’s a great way to stay connected while you socially distance.

Be Wary of Fitness Tracker Obsession

Fitness is about building a wide array of healthy habits that you can sustain throughout your life, but life is about balance. Resist the temptation to get so obsessed with your fitness tracker, and tracking your workouts and food, that it drains the joy from your life.

Man on turf stretching looking at watch

The occasional day you skip working out and eat a bag of chips instead is all part of the balancing act that helps you maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.

Much like the calories still count if you don’t input your sweet treat before bed into your food log, your work out still counts if you forget to wear your tracker. Remember that the tracker is not 100% accurate anyway, it is a tool that helps encourage and motivate you. Don’t let it become something that weighs on you, too. As far as obsessions and addictions go, there are worse things to be involved with, but try to focus on a balance that keeps you happy.

At Supplement Superstore, we are passionate about health and fitness and want to help all of our valued customers achieve their goals. We enjoy talking about fitness and supplements, and we are happy to help if you have specific questions about trackers, workouts, and supplements. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us, and be well!

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