The next time you’re somewhere crowded, have a look around. You will probably see devices you wouldn’t have just a decade ago, and that includes fitness trackers. These bits of wearable tech resemble watches, but instead of telling the time, they aim to let a person know how fit they are.
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From measuring quality of sleep and caffeine intake to counting your calories and steps, fitness trackers are becoming quite popular because of all the things they can do. If you don’t have one of your own yet, you may just want to consider it, but take a look at the upsides and downsides of these devices before buying.
1. It’s An Activity Booster
You probably don’t realize just how often you sit during the day, but this plays into your overall health and even your life expectancy. The Wall Street Journal reports that if you sit for three hours or more a day, you could be shaving two years off your life expectancy, even if your lifestyle is otherwise healthy.
Despite this fact, it’s all too easy to forget to stand up and move around when you’re watching a great movie or busy at work. A fitness tracker will let you know if you’ve been sitting longer than you should, making it easier to keep moving
2. Style And Wearability Isn’t Always Ideal
A fitness tracker will work only if you’re wearing it, and you may be more inclined to have yours at home if it doesn’t mesh with your style. You can sidestep this potential drawback by finding the right style of tracker for your life.
For example, if you don’t care for how any of the wrist ones look or feel, consider a clip-on one that stays in your pocket or is worn under your clothes. Do remember to remove the device from your clothing before doing laundry to avoid ending up with an electronic paperweight!
3. It Can Help With Weight Loss
Calorie tracking is really crucial when it comes to weight loss, since the only real way to lose is by burning off more calories than you consume. But keeping a notebook and reading packages all day can be time-consuming and ineffective, and that’s where fitness trackers come in.
Even the more basic models can estimate your calorie burn rate based on the data you enter, and the models with built-in heart rate monitors add accuracy.
Some trackers will also track your calorie intake, either on the device itself or via an app or desktop program, and there is even a scanning feature for barcodes on food products to get calorie information.
With accurate calorie information on demand, you’ll be able to effectively track your daily calorie intake and have a better idea of what you need to do to change it.
4. You May End Up Fatigued
You’re probably sitting in front of a computer all day, in-between going through text messages and your social media apps on your smartphone.
Adding another item into that hurricane of electronic use can cause device fatigue, causing you to shove that tracker into your junk drawer pretty soon after you buy it.
It’s not such a huge deal if you bought a cheaper model, but if you get one of the more expensive ones, it could hurt. Try not to constantly obsess over the tracker data should you get one, as that could help stave off device fatigue.
Keeping an eye on the bigger picture—your trends over time—will help you get the most out of your investment even if you’re getting sick of devices.
5. It Makes You Accountable
Many apps are fitness tracker compatible, allowing you to connect with friends and family to share your goals and your data. Having built-in support like that makes it easier for you to reach your goals and makes you more accountable.
It’s one thing to fail when you’re on your own but another thing entirely when your friends and family are there, right beside you and cheering you on.
The extra support will help you reach your goals and keep you more motivated than a solitary health and fitness plan normally would.
Work with friends and family to create shared goals, or compete against one another, but don’t forget to lend some motivation to and support of others, too!
6. You Could Get Bored
This particular flaw isn’t really a fault of the device. Many people will stop using their fitness tracker after just a few weeks or months.
According to Tech Republic, one study found that one-third of users stopped using their trackers within six months of purchase.
The reasons people stop using a fitness tracker vary, with everything from style issues to boredom cited, but the result was the same.
To keep yourself motivated to wear yours, set realistic goals, or challenge someone you know if you’ve got a competitive streak.
If you still find yourself losing interest, try changing up your current use routine to break up that monotony.
7. It Increases Health Awareness
Maybe you were told your resting heart rate was on the high side at your last physical, and you need to work out more to get it down. But as soon as you left the doctor’s office, you probably completely forgot that advice.
If you had a fitness tracker with a heart-rate feature, you would know right where you were at by just glancing at your wrist.
Working out more should bring your resting heart rate down, but it’s much more tangible when you can see what efforts are doing for your heart immediately, and that can help you stay on the right path.
You’ll also learn more about your sleeping habits, how much caffeine you take in per day and your inactivity rate with a tracker. You can use this information to make lifestyle changes you may not have realized you needed.
8. There Is A Cost And Features Correlation
You can get a decent tracker for around $50 or less, but it is the more expensive models that come with all the bells and whistles.
Decide what features are your must-haves and what you can live without, and base your decision on that and your budget.
If your heart rate is a concern, for example, make sure you go for a tracker with that tool included on it.
Make clear decisions on what you need and what you can live without if your budget is tight. You can also start out with a lower, less expensive model if you’re more concerned about how well you’re going to commit to using it.
When it comes to fitness trackers, there are both benefits and drawbacks, so think about those considerations before buying. By gauging how well the tracker is likely to fit into your life, you’ll be able to make the right decision when it comes to owning one.