4 Best Tips for Using Fitness-tracking Devices

How to get the most out of your healthy gadget

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If you keep one step ahead of the newest gadgets, you’re probably among the 21 percent of Americans using technology to track your health. The latest tools are wearable fitness tracking devices.

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There are tools that track the number of steps you take in a day, the calories you have burned and your sleep quality — all with the goal of moving you toward better health. Devices have become a lot more advanced than simple pedometers, but the concept is similar. Most devices use “accelerometers” to measure frequency and movement, and some use GPS, altitude measurements and other tools for advanced tracking.

“In this world of long workdays and sedentary lifestyles, it’s hard to gauge how active we’re truly being,” says exercise physiologist Heather Nettle. “That’s why these devices can help. They give you an actual number you can relate to.”

Don’t cheat when you put in your weight, age, daily food intake or other variables. The device will not yield accurate results if you don’t feed it good numbers.

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However, the devices’ effectiveness also depends on what information you put into them. A few tips will improve your usage:

1. Be honest

Don’t cheat when you put in your weight, age, daily food intake or other variables. The device will not yield accurate results if you don’t feed it good numbers.

2. Wear it regularly

You should put on the device first thing in the morning and take it off last thing in the evening, Nettle says. In some cases, you will wear it through the night to track your sleep quality based on how much you toss and turn.

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3. Get real

“You can say, ‘I was walking all day today so I got my 10,000 steps,’ but none of them were actually exercise, and that’s where it can help to designate the difference between just being up and moving and actually doing fitness,” Nettle says.

4. Pick the right device

This depends on how active you are — and what fitness goals you have. Devices that track altitude and speed could really help a runner. Also, many products are designed for fitness enthusiasts, too.

If you’re stumped, ask your doctor or a fitness expert to help determine the best fit for you. And above all, use the device accurately and regularly to increase your chance of meeting your goals.

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