What is an activity tracker?
Have you ever heard of a Fitbit or a Jawbone? Perhaps you have an iPhone and have looked at the App that has a heart on it and seen that it has a bunch of health signs open.
If you are or want to be physically active on a regular basis, a fitness tracker can give you great information about how many steps you are taking on a daily basis. There are activity trackers that also offer different information beyond just steps if you are looking for something more.
What are activity trackers?
• Activity trackers are the modern version of pedometers. One of the great things is that they do more than just track steps. Many activity trackers also examine sleep patterns, estimate calorie intake and even work as an alarm clock or as a watch. Where a pedometer is usually worn on your waist, an activity tracker may be worn on your wrist. Some of them are designed to wear 24 hours a day. Others are found on smartphones and use software that can be downloaded to a tablet or computer to show all that you have done.
• If you are only looking to count your steps, a pedometer may give you all the information you need. If you think that you may want to know more, make sure to review all of the different features available. Make sure that what you choose can track what you want it to track.
Think about these areas:
• Ease of use – A pedometer is very simple to use. You just clip it on, turn it on, and go. Activity trackers may have more that needs to be set up before you start using it.
• Extra tracking information – What information you want to collect will determine which activity tracker is best for you. Some calculate time spent in an activity, distance walked or even the number of calories you burn while being active. Some trackers upload your information and keep it all together in a database so that you can compare day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month.
• Display – For an activity tracker, if there is a display you will want to read, make sure that you can read it inside and outside. Some screens may be hard to see when the sun is shining.
• Price – A simple pedometer usually costs about $10 to $50. If you are thinking of buying an activity tracker, they can cost two to three times that amount.
Keep your doctor in the loop.
If you have a new activity tracker or are planning to start being more active on a regular basis, make sure that you talk with your healthcare provider. He or she may be able to help you set goals and work with you to make the most of your new tracker.
Reference: Mayo Clinic. Walking: Make It Count with Activity Trackers. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20047880
Source: Nicole Peritore, Extension Specialist for Family Health; University of Kentucky; College of Agriculture, Food and Environment