Fitness Tracker, Smartwatch or Pedometer

Smartwatches can do a lot of things. But do you really need to make phone calls or check emails while exercising? Well, smartwatches do have advantages, but do you need those conveniences during a workout. I guess, if you are a Type A personality with a fast-paced life. But for most of us a workout is an escape and a sanctuary from all the responsibility and demands of work. You can easily find a simple or more complex fitness tracker to help meet your exercise goals. To help you decide, think about what it is you wish to measure. Fitness trackers are great at counting steps taken or stairs climbed but are not terribly accurate when measuring (actually estimating) distance traveled or calories burned. If you are the outdoors type you may want one with GPS to determine your location, speed and distance traveled, and it may even help you find your way back if you wander off the beaten path as the GPS enabled trackers are generally very accurate for these purposes. On the other hand, the accuracy of fitness trackers in determining your Heart Rate, amount of sleep, or calories burned leaves something to be desired. Fitness trackers display HR by sensing the pulse on your wrist. They do this by using an optical sensor that calculates the density of your blood. But there are many factors that can affect this such as the tightness of the wristband, the fit of the device on your wrist, and the amount of shaking or movement of your arm. As a result, the displayed HR is an approximate at best and can vary up to 30 BPM. For very accurate HR readings you need a device that pairs with a chest strap which measures the electrical signals of your heart and transmits that info to your wrist device.

Fitness Trackers can only “estimate” calories burned. For more on this topic see he blog on burning calories.

And as for measuring sleep, blood pressure, or blood oxygen levels, well that’s a whole other story. Generally, only medical devices used by trained technicians can measure these factors accurately so it’s advisable to consult with your doctor, nurse practitioner or dietician regarding these. But if you are knowledgeable about how they work, how to use them, and what the numbers mean, then click here.

If your goal is simply to increase or maintain your physical activity by tracking the number of steps taken or stairs climbed during a day or weekly, then a simple pedometer or basic fitness tracker is all you need. Pedometers that clip on to your waist are more accurate than the ones worn on the wrist. For a summary overview of the ease of use and functionality various fitness trackers, click the following link. For a more detailed analysis and reviews of fitness trackers, see the fitness tracker comparison guide.