Precise Devices: Fitness Trackers Are More Accurate Than Ever

Precise Devices: Fitness Trackers Are More Accurate Than Ever

So why do trackers seem to help some people but not others? Our survey, plus interviews with experts, uncovered some strategies that can help you get more out of your device.

Be social. Using the devices with others can be a powerful motivator. Fitbit says that people who use the devices with online friends log an average of 700 more steps per day than those who go solo. Wendy Beck agrees, competing with other users in virtual challenges. “It just makes me get up and move,” Beck says.

Reward yourself. Financial or other incentives might also help, says Mitesh Patel, M.D., at the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia. That can be especially true when you’re starting. He recommends trying an app that gives cash rewards for meeting your goals. One such app is StickK, a program developed by behavioral economists at Yale University that lets you set a goal and a monetary stake and have a friend enforce it.

Keep it simple. Eric Topol, M.D., a cardiologist and digital-medicine researcher at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., tells patients that if they don’t want another electronic device in their lives and don’t want to track their heart rate, they can just use their smartphones to count their steps.

Think in bouts. Many trackers now allow users to schedule “Move” alerts after every, say, 30 minutes of inactivity. And research suggests that long periods of sitting can be especially harmful.

Watch what you eat. If you want to lose weight, diet is key, no matter how much you exercise or which device you use. “You can never out-train a bad diet,” says Ross Steiner of Steiner Strength in San Francisco. “I don’t care how many steps you do.”

And resist the urge to use a workout as an excuse to splurge on a big meal, he says. Though the calorie-counting feature on trackers may not be very accurate, many pair with apps, such as MyFitnessPal, that have food databases, allowing you to record what you eat. That could make you more conscious of what you eat and prompt you to make wiser food choices.

Stick with it. Our survey and other research suggest that many people give up on trackers within a few months. But more than a quarter of people in our survey who currently wear their device have been using it for one to two years, and 16 percent have been using it for more than two. So if you can force yourself to stick with a tracker through that initial period, using the device—and regular exercise—could be more likely to become a lifelong habit.


Published at Thu, 29 Jun 2017 10:03:42 +0000 from Google News

Ron Kerr

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