Have you been wondering what all the hype is about fitness trackers, and wondering why you would want a Fitbit or other fitness tracker? Have you looked at the adverts and questioned what can a fitness tracker do for you? This post explains what a fitness tracker can do for you, and how it can help to motivate you to exercise, plus make your daily interactions with electronics easier. I started off as a 100% skeptic, but now I love my fitness tracker.
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What Can a Fitbit Fitness Tracker Do for You?
Motivation to Exercise – The Most Important Benefit of a Fitness Tracker
A fitness tracker such as a Fitbit can be a really strong motivator to exercise, providing you with goals, feedback, challenges, stats, records, and encouragement.
Also, a fitness tracker lets you review your progress, activities and stats for recent days and weeks. For example, you can see a complete overview of your activities, calories, sleep, steps, etc. on your desktop at fitbit.com on your desktop or laptop computer, as shown below.
You can also get this overview on your cell phone, on the Fitbit app, as shown below. I cannot get the whole overview into one screen shot – on your cell phone, you have to scroll down to see it all. Your cell phone app will also alert you when you need to update the software on your tracker, as you can see in the screen shot (the little red upside down arrow near the top right indicates an update is available). As you can see, you can also check the battery level (top right). And note that your Fitbit will text you when it is low on battery! Plus when it is fully charged, you will get an alert on your phone to tell you your Fitbit is now fully charged.
I find the dashboard on the cell phone app really easy to read and user friendly. And of course, you can click on any of these snapshots, to get more details. For example, as you can see in the screen shot below, you can review your activities over time.
A Fitbit Fitness Tracker Can Help You to Make More Good Choices
Personally I have found that wearing my fitness tracker causes me to make more good choices. I choose to walk upstairs instead of riding the escalator; I choose to park further away from stores; I choose to ride my bike more; I choose to take more walks; and sometimes I even offer to walk the dogs in the evening if I haven’t hit my daily quota of steps – I really want to get to the point where my Fitbit congratulates me for hitting 10,000 steps!
This effect seems to be ongoing – it has not worn off after the novelty of my new tracker wore off. In fact, both Maggie and I found we quickly became very fond of our Fitbit fitness trackers, and that over time they continued to motivate us. There’s just something about your wrist catching your attention with a buzz, and then telling you something like: “You overachiever! You’ve exceeded your active minutes goal for the week!”
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As an example, I used to take our dogs for a thirty-minute walk every morning, but I gave up that habit a while ago – out of sheer laziness, I guess. (And to be fair, it’s tough enough to get to work on time without adding in a walk.) But just this morning I started those early morning dog walks again. Why? Because it’s an easy way to help me meet my steps goal for the day. And I rediscovered how good it is for my mood to start the day with a walk in the park with two creatures who are always overjoyed to greet another day! It’s worth getting up 30 minutes earlier.
Call and text notifications on Fitbits
Most fitness trackers will buzz and show you a notification that you are receiving a call or a text. You can also switch this off it bothers you, or just on Sundays when you are having a well-earned lazy day. I find this feature really useful. I like to know if someone important is trying to communicate with me, such as my wife or kids. It also helps to be able to glance at my wrist while cycling and decide I am not going to interrupt my ride to take an unimportant call!
Of course, you cannot respond to texts or phone calls on most fitness trackers. For that you need a smart watch such as an Apple watch, not a fitness tracker.
Music Control on Fitness Trackers
Most fitness trackers, including the Fitbit Blaze and the Fitbit Surge, enable you to control your music from your wrist. I know that a lot of people don’t see the point of this, but I find it very useful. I often listen to books on my phone, and find that the controls with most Bluetooth headphones are sometimes a bit clumsy – so for example I will restart a chapter when I didn’t mean to. Also, the buttons on headphones are almost impossible to use with cycling gloves.
I find the music control function on fitness trackers really valuable when I am cycling or walking. Especially if my phone is in my pannier!
Most fitness trackers allow you to set silent alarms on your computer or cell phone. On the tracker itself, you can switch these alarms on and off. I like this feature, as I find it a lot less jarring than an audible alarm. To be safe, I set the silent alarm for two minutes before my usual alarm. This usually wakes me up in time to switch off the audible alarm – thus avoiding at least one stressful event before I even get out of bed!
Optical heart rate monitors
Many fitness trackers, including the Fitbit Surge and the Fitbit Blaze, offer optical heart rate monitors, so that you can record your heart beat rate continuously without wearing a chest strap. They show up on the back of the watch as green lights. This enables both of these fitness trackers to automatically track your sleep. This is a great feature. I used it to confirm that I had problems with sleep, and showed my doctor a Fitbit printout of my erratic sleep patterns. On the basis of that, she referred me to a sleep disorders clinic. So I am not surprised to learn that Fitbit trackers are increasingly being used in clinical applications.
Bottom Line on What Can a Fitbit Do for You?
I started off as a 100% skeptic about fitness trackers, but now I love my fitness tracker. It makes me stand up every hour. It keeps reminding me to exercise, but in a good way. Without it, it could be so easy to forget to exercise. With my fitness tracker, I definitely get more exercise. That is the number 1 benefit. The unexpected benefits include my silent alarm, and an easier way to track my text messages, plus control my music and books. All in all, I am never going to be without a fitness tracker on my wrist, ever. I hope it helps to enrich your life, too.
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