Did you just get a new Fitbit or other fitness activity tracker? It’s been decades since the invention of the pedometer, but the process of counting steps has made a major resurgence in the last few years thanks to new technology.
Fitness activity trackers from brands like Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin and Apple measure your movement throughout the day via a wristband, watch, or wearable dongle, and they transmit data to your computer or smartphone to give you a realistic picture of how active you are on a daily basis. However, they do more than just count steps – and we’ll show you how to access those other features.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your new fitness activity tracker:
Set Achievable Goals
The most basic (but also most useful) feature of your fitness activity tracker is that it can tell you how many steps you take in a day. While experts disagree about exactly how many steps you should average for optimal health, studies have shown that 10,000 steps is a good goal – especially when you are new to tracking. The most important step you can take when starting to increase your daily exercise level, however, is setting achievable goals for yourself. Try to increase your step goal incrementally until you get to 10,000 (or more), and don’t push yourself so hard right off the bat that you get discouraged and give up.
Pay Attention to Other Metrics
Your fitness activity tracker likely measures other metrics beyond the number of steps taken. Step data is converted into mileage to give you an idea of total distance walked. Tracking apps also alert you to the number of calories burned (which you can subtract from your daily calories eaten if you also use a meal tracker). Some high-tech trackers even measure the flights of stairs you climb and/or your average heart rate.
Track Your Sleep to Optimize Health
Many fitness activity trackers can also be used to record how well you sleep each night. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep is essential to maintaining your health, so this data can be particularly helpful when it comes to alerting you about a particularly restless sleep and the amount of time spent sleeping deeply. Results vary based on the specific technology of your tracker, but they can be put to very helpful use once patterns are established.
Related Read: Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Sleep Tracker?
Challenge Your Friends for Motivation
It can be difficult to stay motivated with just your favorite fitness-tracking app and plastic fitness activity tracker cheering you on. According to research, however, a good support system keeps people more accountable and makes them more likely to achieve their fitness goals. Most trackers give you the ability to find and connect with friends who are also counting their steps. You can then challenge your cohorts to see who steps the most each day, week, and/or month. The spirit of healthy competition these challenges engender might be just the motivation you need to jumpstart your daily exercise routine.
“Connect with friends using your Fitness tracker”
Fitness activity trackers are incredibly easy to use–which is one reason why they have gotten so popular. By making the most of their data and using all the features at your fingertips, however, you can truly maximize the experience of using one of these devices to improve your overall health.
Ready to get started but don’t have the actual tech yet? Check out the UP3 by Jawbone Activity + Sleep Tracker.