Fitness Trackers – Are They Worth It? Should You Buy One?
I am sure by now, that almost everyone has heard of the likes of Fitbit, Oura rings etc, along with popular smart watches such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Watch. These devices can all fall under the category of fitness trackers, providing data on sleep, heart rate, step counts and various other features. Although they tend to come with a hefty price tag, there are a few invaluable features that will prove beneficial to everyone, regardless of fitness goals.
Step counters/ pedometer
While previously given little attention from fitness professionals, tracking steps is an excellent way to gauge caloric expenditure and overall activity, this can prove essential when tracking weight loss or weight gain. Being able to account for calories spent during activity will allow for a much more accurate diet and training program, keeping a consistent daily step intake based off your lifestyle needs will remove the likelihood of any caloric anomalies from your weekly overall expenditure and thus increase overall consistency.
Heart rate monitors
An important tool if looking to monitor/improve cardiovascular progress or fitness, also a helpful gadget for those who have pre-existing heart conditions, who need to keep close track of health markers. It can also be a good monitor for those looking to perform in certain heart rate zones
A lot of fitness trackers also come with sleep monitors that will track how long you’ve slept for, the stages of sleep in which you spent the most time in, as well as a summative sleep score. When managing recovery, high quality sleep is imperative, being able to monitor this consistently can prove to be an invaluable tool in any athlete’s arsenal.
This feature is usually the one people tend to spend too much time stressing over, the caloric expenditure that your smart watch or fitness tracker tells you is usually skewed, due to its inability to track limiting factors in a laboratory setting, thus a lack of accuracy. The fitness tracker does not take into consideration N.E.A.T (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) and T.E.F (Thermic effect of food) when considering caloric expenditure. This being said, the number it tells you is not completely useless, using this figure to gauge daily expenditure and create an average to monitor consistency would prove extremely beneficial to anyone, professional athlete or not.
So, are they worth it?
In my opinion I feel that having a smart watch is an extremely sustainable, convenient and useful tool for the entire population. Allowing any demographic the opportunity to lead a healthy lifestyle and become more conscious of the changes that need to be made. Although there are very few reasons not to have a fitness tracker, it may not always be an affordable option for some, considering some fitness trackers can cost up to £300. You do not need to have the top of the range, latest smart watch to get the basic features you need as mentioned above. The most basic fitness trackers are very affordable, such as the “Fitbit Inspire” which can cost between £40-60 pounds, however that is when you are buying it brand new, going to second hand electronics shops such as CEX can really help cut the cost of a good fitness tracker.
I personally use the “Fitbit Ionic” which is an older model however has all the functionality I could ever need. More compact models will usually tend to have less features but a longer battery life.
Some personal recommendations for a well-rounded, affordable smart watch include
By Tireoghain O’Neill