Fitness Trackers Save Lives: Here’s How
When FitBit came onto the scene a few years ago, it seemed the whole world went crazy for the sleekly designed wearable. But are these devices really all they’re cracked up to be?
And how do they actually motivate wearers to live healthier lifestyles?
Before we can answer those questions, it’s important to look at where we’re at now. The growing obesity epidemic in Australia has forced us all to have a reality check and ask the big question:
How much physical activity are we managing to slot in during the week?
Over half of all Australians have sitting jobs, and this surely isn’t helping us to make time for the regular exercise needed to combat bad health.
In fact, Bondi osteopath Chris Jones calls sitting “the new smoking.”
But this isn’t new information. For years, we’ve known that sedentary lifestyles put our health at risk. It’s been found that prolonged sitting can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, weight gain and even mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Not so ready to get sweaty?
You might want to think again. A wave of reports is showing that everyday Australians are completely turning their lives around just by using fitness trackers!
In 2017, a study revealed that pedometers (devices which track steps) helped sedentary individuals to increase their movement by 2500 steps per day!
And Jones has said that through observing his own clients, he’s seen “people pay attention to data and [become] motivated to be active.”
Fitness trackers have been found to help his clients hit their fitness goals, even up to 10,000 steps per day in some cases.
But personal stories exist on the web too. Technology journalist Michelle Fitzsimmons revealed that after just one month of using a fitness tracker, she became aware of how little she was moving. She called it a ‘surprisingly effective motivational tool’ and now uses it regularly to track the progress of her workouts.
Another writer believes that her fitness tracker helped her to lose 35 pounds. She credits it for adding ‘accountability” to her workouts and increasing the level of activity in her day-to-day life.
What’s the science behind it?
The fitness tracker is as simple as it sounds. It tracks your level of activity, through measuring your pulse, movements or other data when you wear it on your body.
But there are also complex psychological forces at play behind this innocent-looking device.
Numerous studies have shown that we are more inclined to do something if we get a reward – even if it’s just a feeling of achievement from meeting our target goal of steps that day, or meeting a higher target than the day before. This triggers the reward centres in our brains, making us happier and more active.
It’s a win-win!
As fitness trackers influence us to set goals and achieve them, we become addicted to the feel-good chemicals and remain motivated and on track.
Some fitness trackers are also useful in measuring other data such as calories burned, heart rate and even sleep patterns, which can help wearers to meet more specific health goals.
Creating a fitness and diet plan also helps, but with the aid of a tracker you may be more encouraged to remain accountable for how much exercise you’re actually getting in the day.
Jones has said that while the ergonomics of how people set up their chair and work environment can help reduce the negative risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle, it still doesn’t provide the same benefits as physically moving around.
This is where the fitness tracker comes in.
How do they work?
All fitness trackers are different and are able to perform various high-tech functions.
Some of the latest products on the market can give notifications, which remind people to move away from their desk every 20 minutes – something experts strongly recommend.
You can even connect with various apps on your mobile phone, which helps to connect and sync up results with your other health data. You can enter in notes like your weight and height to create tailored strategies for achieving your fitness goals.
With some advanced features being able to detect the speed at which the wearer exercises, Jones believes that there is something for even the most advanced athlete.
Could a simple way to reduce those negative health risks of a sedentary lifestyle really just be to invest in a fitness tracker?
Yes, and no. The tracker will only track. At the end of the day, your body needs to be the one doing the moving to see any kind of positive health benefit.
But while a tracker may not get your dream beach body overnight, this easy-to-wear device could help you to be more mindful of the level of physical activity you’re getting in your lifestyle. That’s an excellent start.