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Why you should buy a fitness tracker


It's #MobileFit Month here at Mobile Nations, and that means we're looking at all of the best devices to get you fit and healthy. A big part of that group is of course, fitness trackers.

There are people who like to exercise and those who avoid exercise at all costs. The exercising group may be more willing to strap on a fitness tracker, however we'd argue that those who avoid exercise are the ones that would benefit much more. In fact, it seems the non-exercising group are the ones that should consider buying a fitness tracker.

Stepping back with a brief explanation for that logic — the group that enjoys exercising likely doesn't need the extra motivation that a fitness tracker can provide. As a runner and a Fitbit user, a low step count only tells me something I already know, that I took a rest day. One of the big perks of using a fitness tracker is motivation. This comes by simply watching the step count rise throughout the day, and extends to the social aspect. Both of those could help to encourage someone to take a few extra steps during the day. Maybe say, by parking a little further from the store, or by taking the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator.

If you are the type that goes from home to work and back home spending your day at a desk — you may be surprised at how few steps you are actually taking

On a simple level, fitness trackers provide an easy way to keep track of your daily steps as well as other points such as calories burned, water intake, sleep and more. Some of them, such as the Jawbone UP app, also allow you to keep track of your food intake. More often than not the data is presented in colorful charts and graphs. That means it should be appealing and easy to read for everyone.

Thoughts of recording these details, and looking at charts and graphs does bring thoughts of the quantified self movement, but there may be something a bit simpler than getting a fitness tracker and jumping full swing in to that movement. Similar to how someone would be told to keep a food diary if they are trying to diet and lose weight — wearing a fitness tracker and paying attention to the data will make you more aware of your activity. Or more accurate in some cases, your inactivity. If you are the type that goes from home to work and back home spending your day at a desk — you may be surprised at how few steps you are actually taking. It isn't hard to find ways to take extra steps during the day, but on the flip side, it is surprisingly easy to take very few steps.

Those who do pick up a fitness tracker should follow one bit of advice to get started — you don't have to start wearing the tracker and immediately going out for extra walks. You should go about your normal routine the first few days of wearing a tracker, this way you get a baseline of your true activity. Once you have an idea of what you are doing per day, then you can find ways to make changes and begin getting the extra steps. Possibly even looking to get that magical 10,000 steps per day down the line.

Coming with the motivation aspect, many of these fitness bands offer badges. These badges are only virtual, but they should still be fun to get, and fun to share with friends when you feel like doing a little bit of bragging. Using Fitbit as an example and you could get badges for reaching a record number of steps per day or a record number of stair floors climbed per day. Fitbit also has badges for lifetime achievements. For #MobileFit Month we even setup a Fitbit group (opens in new tab) so you can see how you stack up against other Mobile Nations readers.

We made the point earlier and even talked about it on our #MobileFit Month Kickoff Show, but it seems worth stressing; using a fitness tracker could provide the extra push that will get someone off the couch, away from the television and out for some exercise. A short walk before bed could be swapped for the couch and television time. Those looking for the entertainment aspect could take that walk with some headphones listening to a podcast or an audiobook. And remember that exercise will likely improve your health, and possibly lead to the loss of a few pounds. In the end a bit of exercise should help to improve the body and the mind.

Using a fitness tracker could provide the extra push that will get someone off the couch, away from the television and out for some exercise

We've already mentioned how there is some benefit from strapping on a fitness tracker, but a good amount comes from the mind. Remember that simply knowing what you are doing helps. Perhaps the harder side of making this decision is which fitness tracker you should buy. There are plenty of available options, including some from Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin, Nike and others. Most of the bigger names share the common basic features, and some add in perks such as heart-rate monitoring. But while the features may vary a bit from device to device, the good news is that you should be able to pick up a tracker for about $100.

This brings another reason to buy a fitness tracker. They are relatively inexpensive. Well, to be honest, the (roughly) $100 is a good chunk of change, but we'll consider that further motivation. After all, if you are willing to step up and spend the money you are more than likely going to be looking to get your moneys worth and that means continued use, which ultimately will get you paying attention to your daily activity and hopefully making changes to improve that daily activity.

This article originally published on Connectedly as part of #MobileFit month

  • I'm quite an active person and when I bought a fit bit force, it didn't really appeal to me. I didn't need some electronic device inaccurately telling me how many steps I've taken. Furthermore, I couldn't really use it for swimming, which is what I do when I'm not playing sports. Anyway, just my opinion that fitness trackers right now may not be as useful for some folks. So I agree that fitness trackers are more useful to those that aren't as active than to those who are.
  • Swimming is easy to keep track of though, just as up the yards/meters
  • Sure, but an electronic tracking device could ideally tell you how fast you swam each lap, how many strokes it took, what your heart rate was, etc.
    People who are into this stuff want to track and understand *performance*.
  • If you are into swimming you won't care about all these numbers! You'll just swim and enjoy it.. All that you mentioned above is just the marketing bogus.
    As for that fitness tracker thing, i mean really? You guys need to go buy some tracker in order to play sports so that you can brag about it with your friends?? I see it some sort of overrated devices.. I can see its use with people with health problems, like heart diseases or respiratory diseases, but not for the lazy person sitting in his bed tracking his breathing.
  • He's talking about swimming for fitness, not just pissing around in the kiddie pool. As soon as you exercise for fitness you want to know the numbers and that has little to do with bragging. I used to track my cycling times and I loved being able to see the exact distance I went, and how fast I went at each leg of the journey, and over time I could see vast improvements in different areas. For example, my first big hill ride was terrible - but after a few weeks I was blazing up the hill. Sure I knew I was doing better but seeing the numbers reinforced it further. It's a key performance indicator and a great motivator to push harder, go further etc. I enjoy cycling but I almost never want to just ride around aimlessly without knowing my speed and distance (only when I'm on a casual ride with the GF)
  • I completely disagree. Sure, you lose your count for swimming, but you still have several hours of the day awake and out of the pool, right? I know they can't calculate stride length running, but you can still try to beat your previous best. I remember years ago that the weights in my high school gym were quite a bit less than the the labeled weight. Doesn't mean lifting was pointless. You just used a different point of reference.
  • How does it measure calories burned? It doesn't know what weights I'm lifting...
  • If I get Bluetooth LE working and fitbit on my 1520 we are good to until then I will live on my couch waiting for a developer..
  • In SEA its hard to find a fitness tracker that are not overpriced
  • I'll wait until I get a smartwatch that is very compatible with Windows Phone before as I'd rather add that money towards something I know I'll use for years to come and the smartwatch will serve more than one purpose.
  • I have had a fitbit for about a month now. It has increased my activity level so much more than it has ever been. The fitbit with the my fitness pal combo is a killer combination
  • Using the Fitbit flex right now and love it. Can't wait for the Force to be released again. Just wish I could sync to my 1520.
  • But, what you forgot to mention is: which ones are compatible with Windows Phone? Which ones have apps for Windows Phone? I'm willing to bet none. I know Fitbit doesn't have an official app, so all the features aren't available. I'm personally waiting for the Microsoft smart watch.
  • +920
  • +1 A review of the ones that are compatible would be helpful as well.  I want one that isn't noticeable.  I didn't see anything too appealing online...  Ideally I'd like to attach it to my keys, and then if I go on a run or some other activity attach it to my shorts...
  • The only one I've seen that has a WP app is Wellograph ( They are taking pre-orders now and ship next month. Spendy, but with a sapphire crystal (very scratch resistant).
  • A Fitbit is great to make the transition from non-activity to activity.  After you have developed a routine, however, the information is not really accurate enough to be beneficial.  The move to a sports watch or a sports app on your phone is the better answer at that point.
  • Think it would be good to go over fitness trackers Friday work with windows phones and their respective apps.I thought none of them work 100% with our phones asked there's no first party apps.
  • I'd pay maximum 30€ for such a contraption, and it should do absolutely everything with a better life on 1month. 100€ is half of my whole phone. I track my biking with mu phone, and i don't really care how many steps I take (is that really all those devices do?)
  • is there any of these that actually work with Windows Phone?
  • I have a fitbit flex.... Just need an app.
  • Really? Android in background??? :)
  • No active person needs a fitness tracker to tell them their active. Fitness trackers are a way not so sure people can feel better about knowing they're not so active.
  • Some active people, like to know exact data when training.  So yeah you might be wrong about that.
  • This is a Connectedly article folks.  Calm it down.  #Haters
  • Good call - I wish "This article originally published on Connectedly as part of #MobileFit month" was tacked to the *top* of the article ;)
  • As others before me have said, I would love to get a fitness tracker but I was not aware of any that work well with Windows Phone. Most I have seen only work with Windows Phone or Android. Is there a list anywhere of any fitness accessories that work with Windows Phone?
  • I've been hunting for one that would work with my WP also. The only one I've seen is the Wellograph wellness watch. Expensive, but it does have a sapphire crystal which means it won't get scratched.
  • A light weight smart sports watch with fitness tracking features seem like the only good option for me..... But A tracker is one thing, but what I can't even find on the WP App store is an interval timer which will tell you when you have reached the half way point of an interval.
  • You guys realize this article was crossposted from the Connectedly site?  That's why it's very generic in terms of platforms discussed and the Android pic in the header.  Also it's an Editorial so it's just going into the why's of using one more so than a review of various devices and their features/compatibility.
  • I'm waiting for a company to release a suite of sensors that communicate with each other and a device so you can accurately track all types of movements as well as heart rate, body temp, etc.
  • Like Garmin?
  • id like to ask if someone knows is there an app that counts ur steps inside a house or small shopping market? if yes does it need some bluetooth device to count my steps? id like to have app/device that counts my step with my Nokia Lumia 1020
  • I wonder if Nintendo tried to do the same thing of trying to get people who don't exercise much an incentive to do so with their steps counter that came with a Pokemon game whey released a few years ago.
  • No.
  • I'm interested in a tracker, biggest issue thou, which one is a cheap and WP compatible one? Also, how it will work with bike riding? Taking the bike into town Mon-Fri, about 7.4 km one-way, so almost 15 km/day.
  • You guys should check out the polar loop activity tracker. It's way better and more stylish than the fit bit and jaw bone. Plus it can be used with a heart rate monitoring strap to accurately graph and monitor an exercise session.