Do You Need an Activity Tracker?

Posted On: 10-12-2015
Do You Need an Activity Tracker?

Activity trackers are increasing in popularity, which is a positive trend considering that so many Americans are overweight and sedentary. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69 percent of adults age 20 years and older were overweight in 2012. But do you need an activity tracker, and will it be beneficial for you?

What do they provide?

Worn on clothing, around the wrist, or as jewelry, activity trackers record your movements to attempt an accurate view of how active you are throughout the day. Many activity trackers offer additional data, like your quality of sleep or calories burned, and can share data with other weight loss and fitness apps for an even bigger picture. Most even have a website or app where you can view the data, set goals for yourself, and compare with your friends on social networks for a little bit of competition.

How do they work?

Activity trackers work by using an accelerometer sensor that tracks your movements. Some of the higher end models have additional sensors to track muscle heat, skin temperature, active and resting heart rate, and perspiration. They track sleep quality by sensing how much you move during the night.


Studies have shown that activity trackers do help many people to move more, because it makes them more aware of their activity, gives them a goal, and helps them feel more in control. But they don’t do the work for you. If you’re deciding whether or not you want to purchase an activity tracker, you need to consider the following:

  • Commitment – You don’t need to wear an activity tracker for the rest of your life. But you’re likely not going to get an accurate picture of your movement without at least wearing it regularly at first. If you can’t commit to wearing it enough to capture some useful data, it’s probably not for you.
  • Accuracy – Many activity trackers are not perfectly accurate. In fact, some worn on the wrist do not track things like bike rides very well, because you don’t use your wrist much while riding a bike. If you get an activity tracker, you will need to remember that it’s not all inclusive and shouldn’t be the only way you monitor your activity levels.
  • Review – Part of being more active is looking at what the tracker captures and then making changes in your lifestyle to reach your goals. An activity tracker will be most useful if you are prepared to look at and understand the data.
  • Support – While activity trackers are great for many users, they just aren’t for everyone because not everyone works the same way or is motivated by the same things. You might benefit more from a workout partner or a support group, or may even need to combine an activity tracker with additional support.

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