Your Fitness Tracker: How To Make It Work For You

If you’re wearing a fitness tracker (Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch, etc.), then you are not alone. According to cnet.com, about 68-70 million wearable fitness trackers were expected to be sold in each of the past two years in the U.S.

Some companies are even giving employees fitness trackers as part of their employee wellness programs. 

Whether it’s on your wrist or worn on your clothing, here are some tips to remember as you track your fitness with one of these gadgets:

  • Take the fitness tracker’s numbers with a grain of salt. Your heart rate may not be exactly the number on the tracker, but it’s probably fairly close if you’re wearing it according to manufacturer’s instructions. Even general guidance will nudge you towards better health habits.
  • Use the tracker as a motivation tool. We all like to get credit for doing healthy things, and this is the modern equivalent of the teacher’s smiley sticker on your efforts.
  • If you have friends with trackers, if you're the competitive type, making this into a game with competition and goal-setting will help keep you on track with your new habits.
  • Trackers worn on your wrist measure steps and arm movement. If you move your arm a lot (say, clapping at a concert), know that this will raise your number of “steps” without the accompanying boost to your fitness. If you “cheat” this way, you’re only cheating yourself.
  • If you’re riding a stationary bicycle or huffing and puffing on an elliptical, the fitness tracker may not capture your efforts. If you tuck the tracker into your waistband (elliptical) or under the edge of your bike shorts (stationary bike) your tracker may register your efforts. But, it may also dramatically over- or under-count these “steps.” Try it different ways and see what works for you.
  • Don’t let the tracker overrule your common sense. Sure, you still have 5,000 steps to go to hit your goal, but if your knee hurts, stop. Or maybe you get a lot out of yoga, but it registers practically nothing. Don’t skip out on an activity you enjoy just because it doesn’t “count.”
  • But most of all, for a tracker to help you get healthier, you have to actually wear it. It does you no good sitting in a drawer!


How GMC Can Help

With fitness classes, a running clinicfitness assessments and personal fitness training, Gwinnett Medical Center is working to help make the entire community healthier. And if you’re interested in medical weight management or bariatric surgery, our Center for Weight Management at Gwinnett Medical Center offers a multidisciplinary team to work with you throughout your journey to better health, providing medical, dietary, exercise, behavioral and peer support designed to meet your individual needs.

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