Your guide to fitness data
Feeling overwhelmed with all of the stats your fitness tracker provides? Our guide makes it easier than ever to use the data to reach your goals…
How do fitness trackers work?
At their most basic, fitness trackers work by measuring your movement. This shows how much exercise you do in a day, the amount of calories you burn and how much sleep you’re getting.
Many trackers have extra features to give you a more advanced picture of your health, like:
- Accelerometer sensors that can record active minutes
- Heart rate monitors to show how hard you’re working when you exercise
- GPS for tracking distance, pace and incline during running and cycling
So what does all the different data mean exactly, and how can it help you to measure and improve your fitness? We explain…
Record daily steps and activity
Data like steps taken and distance covered are a great way to find out how active you are day-to-day.
Once you’ve started collecting this data you’ll want to make sense of it all. This is where apps like Fitbit that work with your tracker come in handy – with it you get a dashboard with graphs and charts that map your stats over days, weeks and months.
Tip: When you’re buying a fitness tracker, check if the corresponding app will work with your phone first
Check your stats at-a-glance on the Fitbit Blaze’s large colour LCD screen. Or log into the app to see it in more detail. All of the data syncs wirelessly to your phone so it’s automatically displayed on your dashboard. You’ll also get smart notifications like call, text and calendar alerts direct to your wrist. While heart rate, activity and sleep monitoring give you a clear picture of your health and fitness levels.
Measure more intense exercise
High intensity exercise like cardio is usually measured in active minutes and fitness trackers use sensors to recognise this.
If you want more detailed stats, choose a tracker with a built-in heart rate monitor. Heart rate data can show you how hard your body is working during exercise. Your resting heart rate is also an indicator of your overall fitness – the lower it is, the fitter you are.Get the most from your workouts with the Garmin Vivosmart HR.
It has a built-in heart rate monitor that can record intensity minutes to improve your performance. With 7 a day battery life, you can wear it all week to get a full picture of your fitness levels. For added convenience, get smart notifications like emails, texts and calls direct to your wrist.
Track a variety of activities
Do you like to mix up your workouts with different activities? The TomTom Spark 3 + Music uses Multi-sport mode, allowing you to see stats on everything from swimming to cycling, so you can get more tailored workout data. TomTom Spark 3 + Music also has a heart rate monitor, and can track distance, speed and pace – use it to see how well you’ve performed during a run or bike ride. It also works with apps like Strava and Runkeeper, so you get all your stats in one place.
The right soundtrack can make or break a workout. This tracker comes equipped with specially designed wireless sport Bluetooth headphones to give you maximum freedom of movement. Featuring ear hooks, they stay in place even during intense exercise. There’s no need for your smartphone either, the TomTom Spark 3 can store up to 500 songs
Keep on top of your calorie intake
According to the NHS, maintaining a healthy weight is all about calories in vs. the number we burn. See the NHS guide to understanding calories
Fitness trackers can show you how many calories you’ve burned in a day, and some come with the option to log your calories. Alternatively you can pair them with a calorie-counting app like MyFitnessPal – you’ll have to log your calorie intake manually on both.
Get enough sleep
The NHS says most adults need around 8 hours of sleep a night. Fitness trackers can help you get an idea of how much rest you’re getting and set targets to increase it if necessary. They also measure the quality of your sleep, like if you’re restless and wake up in the night. This can have a bigger effect on your wellbeing than the amount of sleep you get. See the NHS advice for getting enough sleep
With built-in sleep tracking, Fitbit Alta monitors your sleep and wirelessly syncs the information your dashboard. Set goals to improve the amount and quality of sleep you get, and program it to gently wake you with a silent vibrating alarm.
The Fitbit Alta can also help you stay on track of your fitness regime by measuring distance covered and calories burned. Automatic exercise recognition means you don’t have to tell it when you start a workout – it’ll start recording and send details straight to your dashboard.
Now you’ve made sense of the data, see our full range of smart watches and fitness trackers