Fitness tracking devices are taking the industry by storm — but do you know how to get the most out of your wearable device?
If you have ever caught yourself thinking about how to reach your daily step count or how to close the ever-elusive movement rings on your watch, you are likely no stranger to the diverse options of fitness trackers available on the market today. Branded as devices designed to improve personal fitness motivation, record exercise goals, and assist with staying consistent with your workout routine, there are plenty of benefits from choosing to integrate a smart fitness tracker into your health and wellness practices.
Whether you are an elite athlete looking to maximize your results or just looking for some extra support in your journey to improve overall health, there is no doubt that wearable fitness technology can be an invaluable tool. With this in mind, let’s explore some of the most common benefits and uses of wearable fitness tech, including a few of our best tips for how to get the most out of your favorite tracking devices.
Here is everything you need to know about wearable fitness technology today:
What is Wearable Fitness Technology?
If you are looking to learn more about your health, there are numerous wearable fitness devices available for you to explore. From fashionable and functional smartwatches to ultra-specific sleep tracking rings, you can truly deck yourself out with a wide variety of specialized devices created to maximize your health and wellness results. Already incredibly popular, the demand and hype over wearable tech is still on the rise, with research analysts estimating that over 253 million fitness devices will be distributed around the world by 2025.
Designed to be used by anyone at any time, wearable fitness devices come in various shapes and sizes and are often designed to serve a specific niche. Some examples of popular wearable devices and their particular uses include:
- InBody Band 2 Fitness Tracker — Designed to offer insights into more than just your fitness habits, the InBody Band 2 was created to accurately and regularly document changes to body fat and muscle mass. Plus, this wearable device uses smart technology to track additional health metrics like sleep quality and duration, heart rate, step count, active minutes, and calories burned.
- The Apple Watch — Possibly one of the most popular fitness trackers, the Apple Watch is known for providing a wide variety of different health information to the user. Depending on the model, your Apple Watch can give you detailed information about your heart rate, step count, amount of daily exercise, time spent standing, and more.
- Fitbit Wrist Devices — Another popular choice, Fitbit products offer great support for anyone looking to increase their exercise levels and accurately track their daily step count. Offering a rewarding buzz on the wrist when you reach your daily goal, these devices are used by many to stay on top of fitness routines.
- Kardia Heart Monitors — An example of a more niche product, Kardia heart monitors are most commonly used by people diagnosed with heart arrhythmias. Able to accurately record real-time ECG measurements, Kardia devices are a great option for patients looking to share their symptoms with their medical providers.
As you can see from this list, wearable technology offers a wide variety of unique services to its users. Ranging from step counters, calorie trackers, oxygen saturation monitors, and more, the world of wearable fitness technology is continually growing to meet market demands and better report on key health and fitness metrics.
How Wearable Fitness Tech is Used
Depending on the specific reason why you chose to get a device, the way you use your wearable fitness technology will significantly differ. For example, while the vast majority of people with an Apple Watch use it to record workouts, like outdoor runs and boxing classes, a smaller section of people living with a pulmonary condition, like asthma or COPD, may use it to regularly monitor their blood oxygen levels. And, while a big benefit of using the InBody Band 2 is its ability to consistently monitor fluctuations in body composition, those who struggle with weight loss may wish to examine (and make changes to) their sleep habits or activity levels to make additional progress toward their goals.
Because there are plenty of different reasons why someone may gravitate towards using wearable fitness technology, we recommend doing some extra research to ensure you are selecting the right product for your unique needs.
The Accuracy of Wearable Fitness Technology
As wearable technology becomes more popular, the demand for incredibly accurate measurements in a wide variety of categories has also increased. A recent study has shown that overall, the majority of wearable tracking devices can report high levels of accuracy for simple metrics, such as hours of sleep, daily step counts, heart rate, and distance traveled in the day, with these particular areas having a mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) as low as 0.1. But, while these measurements are deemed to be highly accurate, other areas such as energy consumption and calories used during a workout have a much higher average MAPE and have four times worse accuracy at 0.44.
While these differences may seem minor or non-consequential, consumers who use these devices regularly may become hyper fixated on the numbers that are presented to them by the device — numbers which are unfortunately not an accurate representation of their true energy spend. Because of this inaccuracy, some customers experience increased stress and are at an elevated risk of over-exercising past their needed goals. Continued research into better ways to improve the accuracy of these metrics and support those who experience these reactions are being explored by health professionals and technology companies in order to improve the quality of these products.
Due to variances in accuracy across devices, we highly recommend that anyone with a wearable fitness device use the numbers as a loose guide, — allowing for consistent improvement in overall health trends without hyper fixation on particular numbers.
5 Ways Wearable Fitness Technology Can Improve Your Fitness Routine
With all of this information in mind, let’s explore some of the most common benefits of adding wearable fitness technology into your health routine. As one of the best ways to support your wellness goals, here are some of the most common reasons why so many people are turning to wearable tech and some tips for getting the most out of your device:
#1 — It Provides Helpful Data About Your Workouts
Whether you are looking to learn more about a specific metric like your average running speed or average resting heart rate or are just interested in documenting the beginning of your fitness journey, wearable fitness technology has got you covered. Great for establishing your baseline values to reflect upon throughout your journey, personal health data is invaluable for anyone who loves to see how numbers correlate to improved overall health.
#2 — It Can Keep You Motivated Towards Your Fitness Goals
If you find yourself struggling to feel motivated to work out, wearable fitness trackers can be helpful tools to keep you moving forward. With many of the unique products offering rewards for beating your personal records and tracking successful workout streaks, many people enjoy knowing they were able to push themselves further in their most recent workout. Additionally, on popular fitness trackers, community-based challenges and support groups can act as an additional source of motivation when you don’t feel like getting up to crush your daily exercise routine. So, the next time you feel like hitting snooze on your alarm, grab your wearable and a friend and get moving! To make your weekly meet-ups more fun, try starting a friendly competition. Challenging each other to walk a certain amount of steps, earn more active minutes, or maintain a healthy heart rate during exercise can help you spice up your workout routine (and earn you some bragging rights if you end up in the winner’s circle).
#3 — It Can Help You Detect When Something is Wrong (And Can Alert Your Doctor)
Many fitness trackers are designed to alert the user of abnormal patterns (like heart arrhythmias) that could be correlated with a negative health outcome. For example, the InBody BAND 2 uses ECG technology to monitor the intensity of your workout. By regularly reviewing this information, you can detect irregularities sooner, discuss them with a medical professional, and adjust your workouts accordingly in order to stay within a safe heart rate zone during exercise.
#4 — It Provides Helpful Info About the Larger Picture of Your Health
While it is tempting for people to focus on one or two specific metrics (like hitting your daily steps or exercising for a certain number of minutes a day), regular use of many fitness trackers can help the user gain a better understanding of their overall health. Anyone who wears their device regularly can see general trends and progressions in relation to their health, even if they haven’t noticed any specific results. This is an excellent function for people new to exercise who may feel disheartened by the lack of immediate results during the early stages of their fitness journey.
#5 — It Offers Fun Challenges with Friends or Work Colleagues
Are you a naturally competitive person? If you love to challenge your friends at the gym, fitness tracking devices can add a healthy and fun level of competition to your daily exercise routine. Many businesses now offer corporate challenges as well, encouraging colleagues to take active breaks or regular walks throughout the day. Check with your company or within your community to see which options are available to you!
Putting It All Together
As digital fitness options continue to evolve in the current health and wellness industry, wearable fitness trackers are going to remain a predominant option for anyone looking to learn more about their overall health. As a product that can be used by a wide range of fitness levels, almost everyone can find at least one or two benefits to integrating wearable fitness devices into their daily routines.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of using wearable technology, follow our tips and explore which devices are best suited for your needs. From the Apple Watch and Fitbit to more niche products like the InBody Band 2, there is a unique product out there to help you crush your next big workout and achieve your fitness goals.
Claire is a registered nurse based in Alberta, Canada. She is a certified operating room nurse and enjoys creating educational content for her patients.