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What’s the Deal With Fitness Trackers?

I recently became another one of those people that started using a fitness tracker. I’ve thought of myself as someone who has pretty good intrinsic motivation to stay active or complete a workout. I thought the addition of my new fitness tracker wouldn’t make much of a difference in how much I move, and I never thought I’d be someone who was … counting my steps. Yet, I’ve become someone who obediently obeys the orders of my fitness tracker – I get up when it tells me to, I walk around when I get close to completing my steps, and I’ll complete a workout for the satisfaction of receiving a motivational message afterwards. But do fitness trackers actually increase physical performance? And do certain ones have a greater effect on people than others? From my own experience, I would say that my fitness tracker has had a positive influence on how much physical activity I get. I also consider myself to be a pretty visual person so I do like the aspect of getting to physically see the completion of my workout on my wrist. I also get somewhat bothered when I don’t complete my steps for the day, which can motivate me to get moving. Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School conducted a study on full time employees by distributing fitness trackers. There were four different groups in this study, and all had different monetary incentives to complete a certain amount of steps. The results showed that when the monetary incentives were in place, individuals increased the number of steps they took when compared to the beginning of the study. However, when the incentives were taken away, 1 out of 10 participants decreased their steps (Finklestein et al., 2016). Cardiologists at Johns Hopkins however state that fitness trackers can improve your steps if you’re setting a daily goal. They say that having an objective daily measure can alter your mindset and motivate you to get your activity in. So needless to say, the results are mixed. If you’ve been considering joining this movement, here are some of my tips to choosing the right fitness tracker for you.


Bang for your buck

If you want to go for one of the cheaper options, Xiaomi Mi Band 2 comes in at around $34.00. While it’s not the most high tech fitness tracker out there, it does include heart rate tracking, sleep, steps, and can be paired with iOS and Android devices. mi.com


Best fitness tracker for sleeping

If you’re interested in your tracking your sleep habits, go with the Fitbit Charge 2. It’s impressive heart rate technology can pick up on deep and light sleep, and even track your REM cycles! It also has the ability to set bedtime alerts, and allow you to compare your sleep habits with people of the same age and gender. This one goes for $149.95 and you can get it at fitbit.com


If HIIT, Crossfit, or weight training is your thing

The Garmin Vivosmart 3 is great for those who are into intense forms of physical activity and really like to push themselves. It has VO2 max testing, as well as automatic exercise detection so everything is accounted for if you forget to track a session. An added bonus, it has a rep counter if you often lose count of your reps when doing weight training. You can find it here and comes in at around $140.00

Best all around

There’s a lot to love in the Fitbit Alta HR. For such a compact design, this one is loved for its strong and reliable heartrate monitor as well as it’s sleep tracking capabilities. While it’s not waterproof, people love that they can see their metrics for resting heartrate alongside their progress towards their daily goals. You can get this one for $149.95 here.


Written by GUADs staff member Emily with contributions from wareable.com

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