Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch, Polar, Samsung Watch, Coros, Xiaomi, and Honor – if you’ve been searching for fitness trackers lately, you may have heard of these brands and more. But are they worth the money? Will they really help you get fit?
Well, that’s what we’ll find out in today’s post. Keep reading to discover the key features you can expect in a fitness watch, its pros and cons, and whether there’s the right one for your fitness and health goals.
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So, Are Fitness Trackers Worth It?
Yes, fitness trackers are worth it if you make them so.
If you pick the right one, it lets you record and look at your heart rate, step counts, and daily burned calories. Its sleep tracking features also allow you to sleep better, exercise more, and stick to a healthier diet.
Regular use of a high-quality fitness tracker improves your workouts, sets realistic fitness goals, and makes them achievable.
Key Features You Can Expect to Find in a Fitness Tracker
- Heart Rate Monitor
Many fitness trackers come with a heart rate monitor that measures or displays your heart rate in real time. The same feature can also record heart rate to provide insight into your overall health and determine health issues.
Additionally, you can track the average daily heart rate, resting heart rate, and average heart rate during a workout. You can also use this feature to estimate the number of calories burned.
- Calorie Tracking
The fitness tracker’s calorie counter tech gives you a better idea of your weight loss, which is thus essential.
This feature tells you how many calories you’ve burned or taken in, so you can tune into your health while you work out.
- Blood Pressure Monitor
One of the great features you can expect in a fitness tracker is tracking blood pressure. This feature is handy for those with blood pressure problems. It can likewise monitor the effectiveness of doctor-prescribed treatments and medications.
Blood pressure monitors in a fitness watch may encourage better daily habits for the wearer. For instance, they can maintain proper exercise and diet, resulting in fewer clinic and doctor visits.
While it’s recommended that your blood pressure readings are sometimes taken at a doctor’s office, checking it at home can provide you with a more accurate picture of your BP health. It detects high blood pressure events linked to situational anxiety or stress that you won’t get in a brief in-person checkup in a doctor’s office.
- Step Counter
A study shows that using a fitness tracker can increase your activity or daily steps by more than a mile. This study is most especially true if you set a heart-smart daily goal.
In another study published in the American Journal of Public Medicine, women who used them increased their workout by about 38 minutes weekly, while the control group didn’t increase their workout level.
Related: How Does Apple Watch Track Steps
- Oxygen Saturation Sensor
One of the latest features in a fitness band is SPo2, or blood oxygen monitoring. It uses an oxygen saturation sensor to track your oxygen saturation levels.
This feature, first used on multisport watches, is designed for outdoor or adventurous people, especially those who spend in areas where saturation can drop.
SPO2 measures the oxygen carried inside the blood cells. A certain oxygen level must be present in the blood for the body to function correctly.
- Sleep Tracking
According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report, more than a third of adults in the US alone are not getting enough sleep daily. The key to getting enough rest, therefore, is to understand your sleep cycle.
You can use a fitness tracker, another feature you can expect when using the device. It provides you data on light and deep sleep, so you know how accurately well-rested you are within the day or week.
- Alerts, Reminders, and Notifications
Another feature you can expect in a fitness tracker is it can connect to your iPhone or Android to access alerts, reminders, notifications, social media posts, text, and phone calls on your wrist.
It can even notify you if you’ve been sitting for too long and send a short message of praise when you achieve an activity goal.
Some designs of fitness bands share their activity reports with selected friends online, leading to a friendly competition to motivate the group to work harder.
- Ability to Sync with Other Devices
Another fitness tracker feature you can expect is that it can sync with other devices. The best way to use the device is to install the accompanying fitness app on your phone. This allows you to review feedback or workout data and match your goals with your activity level.
The best fitness trackers are even compatible with other features, like smart scales that track your fat distribution and body weight to provide a complete picture of your health.
Why Are Fitness Trackers So Popular?
The global fitness tracker market size was US$36.34 billion in 2020. It witnessed a positive demand shock worldwide because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the popularity did not stop there.
The market is expected to grow to US$114.36 billion in 2028. What makes these trackers popular? Numbers and statistics help define one’s fitness and monitor them. Once a person knows their activity level, it makes them more active.
Pros and Cons of Fitness Trackers
Benefits of Fitness Trackers
Track health and fitness goals
Fitness trackers provide you with various health data. This feature can help you see how far you’ve come, whether for weight loss, fat loss, more steps, or more! But just like any exercise equipment, it’s essential to stay committed to your goal to get the most out of a tracker.
Help you stay motivated and push forward with your goal
Trackers are a great motivational tool. They can show your progress in real-time and make friendly competition to move you forward with your plan.
To pick the right fitness tracker for you, the things to look for are battery life, price, design, and ease of use.
If you love running, opt for tracker features, such as pace, distance, lap time, GPS, total running time, and a heart rate monitor. Notable trackers with these features include Garmin Forerunner 645, Garmin VivoSport, and Polar M430.
Understand and improve your overall health
A fitness tracker will help you know if you’re getting enough sleep and steps daily to be healthy. You can use these data to care for your body or train more effectively.
For instance, even the most basic fitness watch can track your total time spent asleep and can improve your sleep hygiene.
Free working trainer and tips
Creating a solid fitness plan and religiously committing is difficult, especially if you’re busy. However, the good news is that a fitness tracker can offer various workout ideas you can follow. Some are even customized for your present fitness level.
Drawbacks of Fitness Trackers
Obsession with numbers
Smart wearable devices can be valuable and fun, but they fuel an obsession with numbers. Some users admit they can’t stand to take off their fitness watch because they fear it would miss a burst of activity and prevent them from reaching their goals. Some even felt anxious that they did not burn as many calories as they expected to.
You can remedy this by setting a healthy boundary with your tracker. Focus on well-rounded health features and be kind to yourself. When you struggle with bad feelings or a bad image day, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Am I moving my body out of respect for it?
2. Am I nourishing myself?
3. Am I resting enough?
If you do the joyful movement, nourish your body, and intentionally rest, it’s easy to thank your body for what it does for you and let go of things you can’t control.
Varying degrees of accuracy
Not all trackers are the same, so you can expect them to have varying degrees of accuracy. A study about the reliability and validity of an Apple watch for measuring heart rate when exercising even claims that being “reasonably accurate” still leaves some room for error.
There’s no substitute for an overall health assessment from a doctor. Furthermore, if you’ve worked with a trainer or a Gold’s Gym coach, you already know what you need to succeed. A tracker ends up as a bonus.
Related: Surprising Gym Membership Statistics
Communities may amplify insecurities.
While fitness communities are excellent for accountability purposes, they can turn toxic when not moderated by fitness professionals.
Participating in communities may lead to more insecurity. This drawback can happen when a life event throws you off your goal, like injury, pregnancy, sickness, and so on. It can be demotivating to see the numbers on the tracker fall short of your target when you compare your tracking progress to peers who don’t experience things you do.
Fitness trackers have indeed become a craze in the fitness industry, and we’re not surprised why. Fitness trackers have many advantages.
Continuously monitoring your health progress and receiving health feedback from a tracker or app can cause significant changes in your overall health or physical activity.
So, be proactive with your health and fitness. You won’t regret investing in a fitness tracker!
For access to more exercise and fitness articles, lifestyle tips, celebrity workouts, nutrition and health info, visit ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.