Do you really need a fitness tracker?
As tempting as it might be to get one, you really should weigh in the pros and cons before heading out to the closest Apple Store.
Maybe you think you need one because you’re spending more time outdoors, and a Fitbit or an Apple Watch are both useful assistants for people new to exercise. Friendly notifications will nudge you to increase your physical activity throughout the day as the trackers keep a vigilant eye on you.
On the other hand, if you’re a chronic procrastinator who has trouble keeping its motivational levels afloat, a fitness tracker can easily be forgotten in a drawer.
Here are a few insights into the usefulness of a fitness tracker that might help you make a wise decision before you go out and spend as much as a few hundred dollars on one.
Usually, all fitness trackers have this feature, which counts how far you’ve walked or ran by the swings of your arms. You set your target, say, 10,000 steps a day, and the device will push you to reach it. Many will also display the number of calories burned.
Once you start hitting your daily goal consistently, leaving your tracker at home while you’re out will happen more often.
Heart-rate monitoring is a feature available on most mid-range and higher-end trackers, but you must keep in mind that these devices aren’t medically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What about sleep?
Even though most trackers have already incorporated the sleep-monitoring feature, Apple and Android smartwatches will require you to download third-party apps. The tracker can tell you if you’re a light sleeper or if you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
But is that information useful? The best it can do is recommend more sleep, where it’s needed.
Maybe the most important of all is to keep in mind that many key features offered by fitness trackers are already available on your smartphone. There’s Google Fit for Android (comes in the box), and Health for Apple, also built-in for counting steps.
Buying a tracker could still be a great investment for some people; the key is whether you’ll use it or not.