The fitness tracker business is booming as the simple idea of a pedometer measuring your steps (remember those cute little things?) has transformed into a Bluetooth/GPS-enabled device that can now do everything from count your swimming laps to navigate your hiking trip.
But the attrition rate of fitness trackers has been tracked for years with some studies saying that a third of fitness tracker owners ditch their gear. Reasons folks decide to stop using the wearable tech range from information fatigue (entering every single meal every single day can seriously get tiresome — or even obsessive) to feeling like a failure for not achieving your daily goals.
We asked the experts their best advice on finding the right fitness tracker and getting the most out of it.
Rob Sulaver (Master Trainer for TomTom Sport GPS Watches)
If you’re just getting into fitness trackers, go for something that is fun, affordable and easy to use. Most brands offer an array of features, so it really depends on how you plan to use it. There are options at every price point for every type of athlete.
For example, if you’re just getting started, a GPS watch would let you track distance, time, pace and speed, which would be plenty. If you also want to geek out about heart rate training (which is a pretty cool thing to geek out about), go for one with GPS and heart rate capabilities. And if you want to add all the bells and whistles (like Bluetooth music) to the mix, that’s available too.
Sasha DiGiulian (Adidas Outdoor Athlete)
Monitoring my heart rate is the key to my training, so I would make sure my tracker had that capability. It’s important to find one that suits your lifestyle and your level of fitness or you will abandon it altogether.
Danielle Arigo (Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Scranton)
Research at the University of Scranton shows that women wearing the Fitbit Flex and sharing their workout results on the Fitbit social network engaged in more exercise during weeks than when they had more frequent contact with others in the network.
Our findings support the use of such devices in conjunction with social networking, and we believe that for women, social networking is beneficial in encouraging regular physical activity.
Melissa Koerner (Co-Founder of Bezels & Bytes)
Connect with your friends on the Fitbit app so you can root for each other and stay accountable. For extra fun, organize a monthly competition where buy-in is $10 and the one with the most steps wins the pot! The one with the least steps pays an extra $10.
Kymberly Williams-Evans (Fitness Instructor and Blogger at Fun and Fit)
Members of my group fitness classes always ask me after class for readouts from my wristband. How many steps did we take? How many calories did we burn? Did we stay active longer this time or last?
On the opposite side of the movement scale, wearable technology that measures my sleep has really helped me break the bad habit of staying up too late. When I set a goal to get at least 7 hours’ sleep each night, I want to see that readout show a thumbs up in the morning!
Margarita McKibben (Fitness Model)
Fitness trackers are a great way to set goals so start by presenting a daily goal then increasing it accordingly. For example, if you see you take 6,000 steps per day, make 9,000 steps per day your goal and add on from there. Also, be sure to calibrate your strides accordingly as directed on your fitness tracker.
Sync up your tracker to other apps so you can connect to friends, family and others in your community, such as the Mibi Challenge App where you can post your results, make challenges, join challenges and win!
Serena Smith-Williams (Health Coach and Blogger at Simple Holistic Girl)
Once you decide and purchase your tracker, make sure you really personalize it as much as you can. Really make it yours and go through all the steps you can to set it up according to your needs and goals.
Ted Vickey (American Council on Exercise Science Senior Advisor for Fitness Technology)
I’ve found greater success when a user combines tracking with the services of a health coach or personal trainer who can better understand the collected data and create a more personalized exercise plan.
Think of it like a mechanic for your car. We all can see the data about our car. Some can fix their own car but the majority needs the expertise of a professional to get maximum benefit.
The good news — new data suggests that adoption rates of wearables and apps is increasing when compared to years prior!
Do you use a fitness tracker? Which one and why? —Margo