Wearable fitness trackers can be key for those who want to keep their daily fitness goals front and center. Learn how your tracker can elevate your motivation and help you reach your goals.

Sticking with a new workout routine is not always easy. It takes commitment, motivation, and a sincere desire to achieve health goals. A critical component for sustaining motivation while exercising is having awareness of how much you are achieving, such as your steps, speed, and number of calories burned.

Keeping track of an exercise regimen can be as simple a taking pen to paper and logging your progress, or as sophisticated as wearing a fitness tracker that does all the heavy lifting for you.

Tons of tools to track your exercise are readily available, but wearable activity trackers are rising in popularity, with one in five adults now wearing activity trackers in the United States.

Whether you use a fitness tracker to help you lose weight or simply want to track your movement to maintain your overall health, here is what you need to know to get the most out of your experience.

What are the different types of trackers?

There are two main types of activity trackers available on the market. Activity trackers are normally worn on the wrist as a watch, pendant, or bracelet and continuously collect data while transferring it to an app, making it effortless to view the progress toward your own unique activity goals.  

Basic fitness tracker. These trackers count your steps and calculate the distance you have gone. It is best suited for those who run and walk for the most basic distance tracking.

Advance fitness trackers:

  1. Heart rate monitoring tracker. These trackers not only count your steps and distance, but also sense and monitor changes in your heart rate.
  2. Heart rate monitoring with GPS tracker. These trackers count steps, distance, and heart rate changes, while also tracking your location wherever you are in the world.
  3. Other advanced trackers utilize apps that will allow you to create personalized profiles so that you can monitor your body fat percentage, stress levels, sleep quality, fertility windows, and menstrual cycles - and can even periodically nudge you to move or stand when you have been sitting too long.

Keeping you at the center

Fitness trackers are enormously popular, and the reasons behind their success boil down to one essential goal: keeping users at the center as the main drivers of their health.

Providing real-time feedback can help you see how your behaviors directly impact your health, and the more you understand about your health, the more proactive you can be to manage your health with positive behavior changes.

Often, healthcare providers can also access and monitor their patients’ health data, becoming ideal partners in the education revolving around their patients’ health. Keeping the patient at the center fosters a collaborative relationship which provides the opportunity for patients to be more proactive in their own choices rather than relying on education singlehandedly dispensed by their provider.

When patients are included in the discussion and decision-making about their well-being, satisfaction and compliance improves, and so does the relationship with their medical team.

Social connectivity: getting the most out of your tracker

If you use your fitness tracker primarily for the basics - counting your steps, distance, and calories -  it is worth taking the time to discover the additional features your device may offer to enhance your experience even further.

Social gamification” describes the use of digital gaming to engage, educate, and motivate people to reach their goals, and it turns out that gaming elements baked into fitness tracking devices have been applied successfully among users to keep them motivated day after day.

Research shows that the best way to keep up with regular workouts is to exercise with another person, and fitness tracking designers capitalized on this finding by offering users the opportunity to share their metrics with their entire social network.

Some tracker apps display a leader board feature, providing real-time ranking of the user alongside friends, effectively motivating the user to work out just to advance his or her ranking.

Many trackers also provide online forums where users can receive social support by interacting with other users with similar health goals and conditions. Social support networks are shown to encourage and improve the adherence to fitness programs.

The bottom line

Using a fitness tracker can open your eyes to how much - or how little - physical activity you are getting each day. Incorporating more activity into your day is essential for managing your weight, keeping your heart healthy, helping you manage blood sugar levels, strengthening your muscles and bones, and boosting mental health. A fitness tracker can provide the incentive to keep moving and the information you need to stay empowered to make healthy behavior changes.