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sarahlodge

Fitness Trackers, Are They Actually Useful?

5 posts in this topic

Hello, I've got a keen interest in Cardiovascular fitness, although I'm unaware of whether to purchase a fitness tracker. Feedback from others have told me that they don't find them useful. If you use one can you just reply explaining to me what you find most useful about them and whether they motivate you at all? Also, if you use a fitness app, what do you find most beneficial?

If you don't use one, what do you use to motivate you instead?

Thanks rolleyes.gif

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Hello, I've got a keen interest in Cardiovascular fitness, although I'm unaware of whether to purchase a fitness tracker. Feedback from others have told me that they don't find them useful. If you use one can you just reply explaining to me what you find most useful about them and whether they motivate you at all? Also, if you use a fitness app, what do you find most beneficial?

If you don't use one, what do you use to motivate you instead?

Thanks rolleyes.gif

To be blunt about it, the idea that you have one body for the rest of your life and so liking yourself enough to look nurture, maintain and look after it really SHOULD be the only motivation you need. If that isn't enough what could possibly be more of a motivation?

Ok most people don't work that way and aren't wired that way, but it's certainly something to keep in mind in the hopes it does start to take hold.

In the meantime, fitness trackers have some uses. Just realize they are just computers and are never going to be completely accurate.

When putting in your data it's always going to be making approximations and guestimates based on your age, sex, height, weight etc but when it goes to calculate things like how many calories you burned that day, it can't possibly know accurately.

The one big problem with cardiovascular fitness (to the exclusion of resistance training) is your hormonal responses often change for the worse and your metabolism will drop. I know that doesn't seem logical, but the truth is, when you so steady state cardio you are primarily using fat for fuel and assuming it is the one type of cardio (ie running) you are using a limited set of muscles (the ones that propel you forward). Your body is going to want to respond to the challenge you have thrown at it by making itself more efficient at this thing you are making it do. So obviously a good thing would be for you to be lighter. That way there is less of you to carry around making it easier. But also, as fat is your primary fuel source, your body will be looking to store fat to fuel the next run. It will also need the muscles that propel you forward, though the level of strength needed from those muscles will decrease if you get lighter. And to make you lighter what is your body going to give up? Mostly muscle. In particular any muscle that isn't used to propel you forward.

So now your body is lighter, has less muscle but a higher percentage of fat. Because you are lighter the same level of running won't have the same metabolic effect and you will need to do a lot more just to get the same output. Plus whilst you are at rest there is less muscle tissue to have to support, meaning your body is expending less energy in doing so, therefore your metabolism will slow. Further, as you are running down your muscle stores you are also lowering your ability to store glycogen, your insulin sensitivity will decrease as will your testosterone levels. Plus, now because you need to make your runs even longer to get the same output your body will be even more inclined to store fat than before. As your muscle density in general is lessened, you will have less strength and as such, almost everything you do during the day will be effected. You will be able to lift less, you do things with a lower level of power. You may move faster, but that will be down to you being lighter so the oxygen required to do this will be less. As such you will be burning fewer calories.

And even if none of that were true, the fact is no two people are alike and what this does show is that 2 people could be exactly the same height weight gender and age and have completely different metabolic output, but the machine will just assume both people conform to the 'average'. Even if it is working off your heart rate, it will still be calculating what your heart rate 'should' be based on your age (usually 220-age being your max HR) and doing calculations from there.

All I'm really saying is, they are never accurate.

BUT they are generally fairly consistent. So it may tell you that you have burned 2500 calories in a day and the truth might be that you've burned almost double that or almost half that, but if the next day it says you've burned 3000 you can be sure that you expended more energy that day and that's an improvement. So as a method of 'self competition' to keep you going, then it's as good as anything else.

However, as a method of real motivation, ask yourself what it is you want to achieve, then measure that thing. As you see progress that should motivate you to continue and if you see regression, then hopefully you can take that as feedback rather than failure and choose to simply do something different to get you back to moving forward.

For example, if your goal was to reduce your waist size - measure your waste size (and nothing else - don't worry about scales or body fat as that is not what you said you wanted to improve). If you want to change how you feel generally, keep a diary and measure how you feel generally. Then every few weeks look back and see how your recent entries are comparing to your older ones. If they seem to be more positive then great, if not, keep changing what you are doing until you find what works. If your goal is to get faster over a distance, obviously just time yourself over that distance at set intervals to see if you are making progress.

Making a difference on a digital display is all well and good, but making a difference that actually means something to you on an emotional level is so much more motivating. So by being clear with what it is you are looking to achieve, it is easier to discover the best way of tracking your progress toward that goal and therefore finding the ideal motivational tool for you.

Hope that is of use.

Mark.

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To be blunt about it, the idea that you have one body for the rest of your life and so liking yourself enough to look nurture, maintain and look after it really SHOULD be the only motivation you need. If that isn't enough what could possibly be more of a motivation?

Ok most people don't work that way and aren't wired that way, but it's certainly something to keep in mind in the hopes it does start to take hold.

In the meantime, fitness trackers have some uses. Just realize they are just computers and are never going to be completely accurate.

When putting in your data it's always going to be making approximations and guestimates based on your age, sex, height, weight etc but when it goes to calculate things like how many calories you burned that day, it can't possibly know accurately.

The one big problem with cardiovascular fitness (to the exclusion of resistance training) is your hormonal responses often change for the worse and your metabolism will drop. I know that doesn't seem logical, but the truth is, when you so steady state cardio you are primarily using fat for fuel and assuming it is the one type of cardio (ie running) you are using a limited set of muscles (the ones that propel you forward). Your body is going to want to respond to the challenge you have thrown at it by making itself more efficient at this thing you are making it do. So obviously a good thing would be for you to be lighter. That way there is less of you to carry around making it easier. But also, as fat is your primary fuel source, your body will be looking to store fat to fuel the next run. It will also need the muscles that propel you forward, though the level of strength needed from those muscles will decrease if you get lighter. And to make you lighter what is your body going to give up? Mostly muscle. In particular any muscle that isn't used to propel you forward.

So now your body is lighter, has less muscle but a higher percentage of fat. Because you are lighter the same level of running won't have the same metabolic effect and you will need to do a lot more just to get the same output. Plus whilst you are at rest there is less muscle tissue to have to support, meaning your body is expending less energy in doing so, therefore your metabolism will slow. Further, as you are running down your muscle stores you are also lowering your ability to store glycogen, your insulin sensitivity will decrease as will your testosterone levels. Plus, now because you need to make your runs even longer to get the same output your body will be even more inclined to store fat than before. As your muscle density in general is lessened, you will have less strength and as such, almost everything you do during the day will be effected. You will be able to lift less, you do things with a lower level of power. You may move faster, but that will be down to you being lighter so the oxygen required to do this will be less. As such you will be burning fewer calories.

And even if none of that were true, the fact is no two people are alike and what this does show is that 2 people could be exactly the same height weight gender and age and have completely different metabolic output, but the machine will just assume both people conform to the 'average'. Even if it is working off your heart rate, it will still be calculating what your heart rate 'should' be based on your age (usually 220-age being your max HR) and doing calculations from there.

All I'm really saying is, they are never accurate.

BUT they are generally fairly consistent. So it may tell you that you have burned 2500 calories in a day and the truth might be that you've burned almost double that or almost half that, but if the next day it says you've burned 3000 you can be sure that you expended more energy that day and that's an improvement. So as a method of 'self competition' to keep you going, then it's as good as anything else.

However, as a method of real motivation, ask yourself what it is you want to achieve, then measure that thing. As you see progress that should motivate you to continue and if you see regression, then hopefully you can take that as feedback rather than failure and choose to simply do something different to get you back to moving forward.

For example, if your goal was to reduce your waist size - measure your waste size (and nothing else - don't worry about scales or body fat as that is not what you said you wanted to improve). If you want to change how you feel generally, keep a diary and measure how you feel generally. Then every few weeks look back and see how your recent entries are comparing to your older ones. If they seem to be more positive then great, if not, keep changing what you are doing until you find what works. If your goal is to get faster over a distance, obviously just time yourself over that distance at set intervals to see if you are making progress.

Making a difference on a digital display is all well and good, but making a difference that actually means something to you on an emotional level is so much more motivating. So by being clear with what it is you are looking to achieve, it is easier to discover the best way of tracking your progress toward that goal and therefore finding the ideal motivational tool for you.

Hope that is of use.

Mark.

Wow, didn't expect such a good response. You clearly know you're stuff and it's nice to talk to an expert. Truthfully, I always believe its the self motivation of having my body progress and change through the months of training rather than a fitness tracker and it's clear from your reply, its the real motivation that matters, from what I want to achieve personally. Thanks for such a detailed response.

Sarah.

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Hi,

I am no expert like Mark above (great post btw) but I would say that if you would like to just keep track of your own movement and measure that against your own progress then it's pretty good. I haven't yet succumbed to buying a fitbit but everyone in the office i work at has one and people are reguarly having steps compettitions so its almost become a group exercise which is good because it means everyone is doing more exercise now haha.

Having said that I wouldn't necessarily commit to a fitbit, there are much cheaper alternatives on the internet as well as smartphone apps which do similar things. I use mapmyrun occasionally so I can have a rough estimate of my own progress!

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Hi,

If you are looking for fitness device for yourself, you must checkout MevoFit Drive. The band allows you to do much more than just counting your steps, like it tracks your distance, calories burnt, and sleep patterns. Along with this, the band has the feature of reminders, sedentary notifiers, anti lost alerts and more. It shall be really helpful in motivating you to reach your desired goals. 

You can buy the band by downloading the Mevo app, which is available both on Android and iOS

Along with this the band is also available on www.myntra.com

Thanks!

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