Do you need a Fitness Tracker?

Fitness trackers have been around longer than many people realize. Before the Fitbit and Samsung Gear trackers entered the market, there have been pedometers, tracking the number of steps you take in a day. Of course, technology advanced and our ability to track our own movements and activity in a day also advanced. But the question really is: do you actually need a fitness tracker? Sure, they are sold everywhere, and many people have them, but how much do you actually need one?

Your phone may already have one

Many people already have smartphones and believe it or not, your phone may already have a built-in fitness tracker. Trackers may offer you the option for tracking sleep, steps, and workouts, but phones now offer a lot of those features themselves. The biggest issue with them, however, is that you will have to have your phone on you, meaning in your pocket or otherwise, in order for it to track steps. Smartphones have gotten so large though that many of us simply don’t have the pockets or space to be carrying them around all of the time.

There is a good chance they will not help you lose weight

If you are new to exercise, you might need something to help get you started with a weight-loss or exercise regime. In this case, a fitness tracker might help you get moving. Through tracking your exercise, movements, and in some cases, challenges, you might be able to get into a habit of working out that you may not have been able to otherwise. If you are just looking for something to help get you moving, a tracker might just be the right thing for you.

That said, a tracker’s ability to track your movements is not perfect. The tracker tracks through your arm movements, guessing your stride based on your height and your size. It might track steps when you are doing menial tasks like the dishes or even sitting in a rocking chair. So, if you were hoping for an accurate representation of how far you walk, a tracker is not going to do that for you. It also cannot motivate you by itself. A tracker is capable of only doing so much, so if you have a tendency to procrastinate, your tracker may find itself sitting in a drawer.

They are not accurate enough for athletes

An athlete needs something more focused than a generic fitness tracker for their training.
An athlete needs something more focused than a generic fitness tracker for their training.

If you’re a committed athlete, you’ll want to track your distance, heart rate, and your speed, but a fitness tracker may not be accurate enough to actually tell you want to know. Some of them do allow for calibration, allowing you to mark your real-time distance and your stride length, but those are going to be the higher-end trackers and may not be worth the money. If you are training for a marathon, for example, and are trying to get in a certain amount of miles per day, then you might not be happy with what the tracker has told you when it comes to running the real thing.

The bottom line

You need to think about what you will actually use the tracker for and what your need is. If you just want to get yourself off the couch and moving around, a tracker might be able to keep you going. If you are hoping for something more accurate, a tracker may not work. It could be worth the money to you if you need that little nudge to keep you active, but you might have just as much luck with your smartphone.

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marion-fernandez is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival