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 tracks 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.
Fitbit’s new Ionic watch lets you check all of your stats at-a-glance via its colour LCD touch screen. Or you can log into the app to see them in even more detail.
The data syncs wirelessly to your phone so it’s automatically displayed on a dashboard for easy viewing. But this nifty gadget does more than just track your vital statistics.
Log running routes via in-built GPS, make payments on-the-go and even play music directly from this clever smartwatch.
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, the Fitbit Alta HR 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.
Monitor your fitness goals
Whether trying to lose weight, build muscle or improve your general fitness, smart bathroom scales are a great way of monitoring progress.
Gone are the days of inaccurate weighing scales. This clever tech not only looks at your weight but measures your body fat percentage, body water percentage, BMI, muscle mass and more.
Smart scales use WiFi and/or Bluetooth to transfer the data to your smartphone – so you can easily check if you’re staying on track.
Nokia’s Body Cardio Heart Health & Body Composition Smart Scale takes your weight, BMI, fat mass, muscle mass, water and bone mass and sends the results to the Health Mate app (available on iOS and Android). It then provides personalised coaching based on your progress.
It even monitors your heart rate and tracks arterial health for early warning signs of cardiovascular disease.
More than one of you keeping an eye on your health? Then Garmin’s Index Smart Scale is a great option, recognising up to 16 people.
The Index Smart Scale uses the Garmin Connect app (available on iOS, Android and Windows) to record in-depth health metrics – helping you to keep an eye on your fitness goals.
Now you’ve made sense of the data, see our full range of smart watches and fitness trackers
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