Do Fitness Trackers Help In Achieving Your Health Goals?

Friday Oct 2, 2015 | BY |
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Do FitBits and other trackers really live up to the hype?

I recently bought the Fitbit Charge HR. It’s the third fitness tracker from Fitbit, and the second version that I’ve tried. The first one wasn’t water resistant. It drowned easily. I replaced it and pampered the second one, but for me, Fitbit Flex provided limited data and it wasn’t rugged enough.

The software program was easy to use, though. I saw my average number of steps and estimated miles. I learned that on my days in the clinic I walked about 3 miles between patient exam rooms, our intravenous infusion center, and walking to my car.

On my writing days, I don’t move much because I’m at my desk for at least five hours. That’s a fitness quagmire. Over the last few years, I found that the more days I sat writing or working on patient charts, the worse my fitness and wellness became.

Walking the dog helped a little. Getting up every few hours from my desk to putter around the garden also helped. Going to the gym at the end of the day balanced the sitting, but not by much. I was sitting too much. I needed to move more.

In contrast, when I’m in Peru, I walk a lot. Though I consume about the same number of calories, I lose an average of 5 pounds in two weeks. My BMI is 25, but I know the optimal weight that allows me to be agile, lift my body weight in yoga, and do pull ups and handstands requires a BMI of 22.

On my last trip to Peru, my Fitbit tracker informed me that I walk an average of 6 miles daily. That’s double my daily average at the office. In Peru, I also carry a daypack with cameras and note books, adding about 12 pounds? Around the office, I carry a Macbook Air.

My first Fitbit provided the basic information I needed to learn that doubling my daily walking distance provided a significant health advantage. My new Fitbit Charge HR is much better. It’s more sensitive, more responsive, and has extra features. It measures heart rate, stair climbing, and tells time.

Benefits Of a Personal Fitness Tracker

  1. Counts the number of steps and calculates the miles you walk. Getting in 10,000 steps every day is not easy unless you walk to work or have a great, and safe, place to walk, like the trails in Austin or Washington, D.C. But in order to be healthy and fit, you have to walk more.
  2. Provides continuous real-time heart rate. Seeing your heart rate at a glance allows you to adjust the intensity of your workout. You may have to push more if your heart rate isn’t in the target zone. If you’re pushing too hard, you risk overtraining, which uses up too much energy and increases risk injuries.
  3. Calculates the number of calories you burn. This is helpful if you’re on a weight loss challenge because you can compare the energy you burn as calories and, if necessary, adjust the level of your activity to burn more.

These three fitness parameters—miles walked, heart rate, and calories burned—form the foundation of a daily exercise program, and help you set and meet fitness and weight goals.

My Charge HR is not perfect. I think it’s also pricy for what you get: in my opinion, $39.95 would be a fair price. But I can live with this one for a while. I look at it as a small investment that helps me move more and sit less, and a very useful tool that helps me achieve specific fitness goals.

Dr. J. E. Williams

J. E. WILLIAMS, OMD, FAAIM

Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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  1. June Hanson says:

    So proud of you, that your getting away from computer. Organized exercise program to fit your needs. Main thing is for everyone to do something, consistently. I, need to be motivated, so attend classes with instructors that make work out fun. Just to take a walk, I will bomb out, or confine it to days, having no classes. Also varying exercise helps, using different muscles. Whatever we do, let us be faithful, to get up and move it, make it enjoyable.

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