Currently, the world is in the midst of a health-tracking revolution, with innovation appearing at a pace never seen before, from smartwatches to phones, earbuds, smart rings, among others.
So if you’ve decided to get into fitness or want to keep track of your health, a health tracker comes in handy. With many health trackers available, it’s essential to understand what they are, what benefit they offer, and what to consider when buying one?
Our goal is to provide you with the key to the new quantified you.
What is a health tracker?
Health trackers are also known as activity or fitness trackers. These devices or applications are used to monitor and track fitness or health-related metrics. For example, it might be the distance you cover while walking or running, calories you consume, and in some cases, your heart rate, blood pressure, sleeping patterns, and swimming laps. In a nutshell, they are like wearable computers constantly collecting and analyzing healthcare and fitness data.
Most of them do not store the data but push them to an app and store them in the cloud for easy retrieval and analysis.
The apps connected to some health trackers enable you to keep track of your progress, set your goals, and give you guidelines on how to achieve them faster. Depending on what model you buy, they will look like a digital watch or a band, usually a small digital display. Some common brands include Garmin, Fitbit, and Jawbone…. even though there are many more.
Why should I get a health tracker in the first place?
Health trackers offer various benefits that can serve you well and help monitor your health and fitness. Among the reasons why you should get one include:
Such a small device can be very efficient when you use it to achieve personal fitness goals. You’ll likely notice you’re losing weight much faster. When you can keep track of your activity levels, you’ll notice if you’re in the correct heart zone or not.
Identifying different parameters helps in knowing if you are on the right track towards reaching your desired weight loss goals.
This is the main reason why most people use a health tracker. If most of them can keep track of your goals, the key is staying motivated and sticking to your health routine. With Health trackers, you are finally in the driver seat and in full control of your health.
People with chronic diseases can quickly know what their daily health status is. When needed, the data can even be shared automatically with healthcare providers. They also have the potential to reduce the number of walk-in appointments in hospitals.
In the connected world we live in, privacy is crucial, and it is critical to set boundaries on how the data are shared. In 2018, Teachers in West Virginia started a strike when their state public health worker plan introduced the idea of making it mandatory for them to wear a fitness tracker to check their activity and health-related habits.
The proposal was right from a dystopian movie rewarding the fit ones and increasing the premium of not-so-fitness addict teachers.
Boundaries must be set, and such devices have the potential to interfere with your privacy when used by private or public entities.
If you’re having trouble getting enough sleep, you might be experiencing some sleep disorders. A health tracker can be used to tell how well you’re sleeping by monitoring your movements while you sleep through sensors.
Ensuring you get three complete cycles of sleep every night is essential. It helps maintain your energy levels, plus it gives your brain and body time to recover and process the things that happened during the day.
What are the different types of trackers
They are many types of health trackers. However, we will concentrate on the main types.
Heart rate monitoring trackers
If you have any heart problems, a heart rate monitoring device may be precisely what you need. They work just like fitness trackers, but they have sensors that can monitor your heart rate. When exercising, it can be beneficial to inform the wearers of their thresholds.
Some of them have a built-in GPS and can communicate with satellites to triangulate your location anywhere around the world. If you like hiking or cycling, this type of health tracker could be a real-life saver.
If a cardiac event is detected, the emergency services will be automatically alerted, and assistance will come to you.
Fitness trackers are highly beneficial when working out. They can approximate how many steps you make, the intensity of your workout, and so many other parameters. They work well for walkers and runners who need to keep track of this data.
One way we use ours is to set the number of calories we aim at burning during each session, 500 kcal most of the time, and exercise up to when we reach them. This put the guesswork out of the equation, and we appreciate that.
Different form factors
Technology has come a long way, and we now live in a miniaturized world. Fitness devices are not bulky anymore, and companies now offer numerous form factors to choose from.
Depending on the needed features, these devices can be worn as a watch, a ring, clipped on your side, or even a pendant that will mimic a piece of jewelry.
All of them will not offer the same features, of course. That is why it is critical to carefully define your expectations and what you wish to monitor in priority.
What should I consider before buying a health tracker?
Many health trackers are available on the market, and it can get a bit complicated shopping around for one. You can consider the following things when buying a health tracker:
Check the Compatibility of the technology
Many health trackers have software that’s only compatible with specific devices and apps. Therefore, ensure you get a health tracker compatible with the operating system, phone model, and specific app you prefer to use.
Check the Compatible with your lifestyle lifestyle
Consider your daily lifestyle and how you intend to use a health tracker to your best benefit. It would be best if you considered whether you’re a sedentary or active person. This helps narrow down the things you want your health tracker to cover. Be aware of the features that excite you.
For example, you might require a tracker that shows you notifications if you work with your email a lot. All in all, you need to consider what’s important to you and find a fitness tracker with the necessary features.
Are they within your budget?
You might be able to afford expensive health trackers and feel as if the price is not a problem. However, if you’re on a budget, be aware of what amount is the most you are willing to spend.
Knowing this will help you once you walk into a store. You might be swayed if you don’t know how much you want to spend. Ensure you find the best deals and choose a device with the excellent fitness or health monitoring features you will need.
Read reviews to make an informed decision
Reviews have saved many people from buying health trackers that don’t perform well. Getting a consumer’s viewpoint will help you understand how your life will be improved with the health tracker.
You won’t end up buying a device that will disappoint you in the future. If you have friends or family members who have used the health tracker, ask them for their honest review.
To wrap up
Keeping track of your health is an integral part of a healthy and active lifestyle. A health tracker significantly improves your ability to do that. You can keep track of your health and also be held accountable for it. Technology has made it easier to measure a lot of things through simple wearables.
Some of them don’t even need you to strap them on your body and can be worn as a ring. For example, you can easily track your progress if you’re working out. You’ll be able to determine how successful your workout regime and diet plan have been.
3-axis accelerometers are at the center of step tracking. The levels of acceleration will help define the pattern and intensity of the movements.
No, they don’t! Health fitness trackers are only good as the underlying motivation. Checking your weight on the bathroom scale will not make you slimmer. It goes the same with health trackers. A two-year study from the University of Pittsburg showed that the benefits could easily get wipe-off when will decreases. The benefit of quantified self will only last as long as the user is motivated. They should not be considered a magic bullet but as a tool to improve.
Depending on the needs, a budget fitness tracker could be sufficient to measure activities. High-end ones will primarily guide their app and a more comprehensive range of measurements. For daily activities, a cheap one is more than enough to stay on the health path. For less than $50, fitness bands, such as those offered by Huawei, are excellent and recommended.
In a recent study conducted by the Mayo clinic, the accuracy of triaxial and omnidirectional accelerometers was found adequate for measuring sedentary and physical activities but less for small movements.
Yes, they are! If knowledge is power, the world of quantified self offered by fitness tracking devices can be an eye-opener towards a healthier lifestyle.