Your guide to fitness data
Feeling overwhelmed with all of the stats on your fitness tracker? Here’s how 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 number 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:
- Accelerometer sensors can record active minutes
- Heart rate monitors show how hard you’re working when you exercise
- GPS track 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?
Record daily steps and activity
Data from steps taken and distance covered is a great way to find out how active you are day-to-day. Apps like Fitbit that work with your tracker really come in handy when trying to decipher this data. A dashboard displays graphs and charts, mapping your stats to show your progress over days, weeks and months. How can a fitness band improve your routine?
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 for easy viewing.
Measure more intense exercise
High intensity exercise like cardio or HIIT 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.
Marathon training demands detail
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keep your training focused tightly on your objectives with a Garmin running watch like the Forerunner 235. With it you can follow dedicated half marathon and full marathon training plans.
To track a run simply hit the start button – from there it’ll record your exact distance and the pace you’re running at. The built-in heart rate monitor tells you how your body is responding to exercise so you can adjust your pace to optimise your performance.
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 - for example, if you’re restless and wake up throughout the night. Quality 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 to 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.
Now you’ve made sense of the data, see our full range of smart watches and fitness trackers