"Wearables” are becoming increasingly popular in the fitness industry. Discreet, wearable devices allow individuals to keep track of different fitness aspects throughout the day, and usually alerting the user if their goal for the day has been met. The user can set each goal themselves, creating their own workout plans, keeping them on track, and meeting new fitness goals.
FitBit was a company started in 2007, with a goal to empower and inspire anyone to be healthier and more active. They wanted to make fitness easy, trying to take the seriousness out of it, and adding an aspect to encourage fun. FitBit tracks every activity
throughout an individual’s day, including sleep, exercise, food, weight, and sleep, while providing motivation to the user. The wireless device connects to a smartphone to allow the user to connect to a social network of other users. The company makes all sorts of devices, from small pedometers, to smart watches, and even a scale. They recently started to add designer elements to make the device more attractive, especially to women, allowing them to switch a thick rubber wristband to a sleek, sparkly bangle bracelet.
Garmin also started to produce an activity tracker. The features that Garmin offers on their devices is a color screen, a touch screen, GPS-enabled, wrist based heart rate, and swimming metrics. Swimming metrics something that most companies do not include in their wearables. One of Garmin’s models, Vívoactive HR, is a GPS smart- watch with wrist-based heart rate. It comes with built-in sports apps that include GPS- enabled running, biking, swimming and more with no phone connection required. This device features an accelerometer without the need for a foot pod, can store personal records, offers bike speed/cadence sensor, heart rate monitor, pace alerts, heart rate based calorie computation, pool swim metrics, golf features, step counter, sleep monitoring, and an 8 day battery life.
The Misfit Shine activity tracker is one that I have not seen before. It is sleek and small, that tracks activity as well as sleep. The wearable emits a halo of lights around the circular face to show your progress towards the daily goal you have set. The Shine device tracks cycling, soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming and other activities, as well as steps, calories burned and distance traveled. When connected with the app, you are able to track your activity and sleep, set different goals, compete with friends, and log your food intake and weight. You can even attach the device to your shoe.
If investing in a wearable device is not an option, there are smartphone apps that basically keep track of the same elements. While searching through the iTunes App Store I came across fitness trackers for only a few dollars. The issue with using an app, without wearing a wearable device, is that you have to input all the information yourself. Although you still need to input information regarding diet into the apps that connect to wearable devices, you do not have to add your exercise duration or intensity. This may become an issue for people because they may forget or not enter the appropriate intensity. Most wearables track your heart rate during exercise. If an individual were to only use a fitness app, they would have to keep track of their heart rate themselves, especially if they are not at a facility where they are using a treadmill or other cardio equipment.
Even though different manufacturers make devices, they all are fairly similar. Most people are only interested in the basic features, like step count, goal setting, and sleep tracking. Incorporating wearable activity trackers into an exercise prescription would be an easy task. One reason these devices are useful is because you do not need to be confined to a treadmill or indoor StairMaster at the gym to get your workout summary. These devices can give a more accurate summary, because you have the capability to enter your exact height and weight, and the food you have eaten. The goal setting feature is also useful to help keep clients on track with how much activity they should be performing. These wearable devices alert the user when their step goal/distance was reached.
I decided it was time to use one when my best friend Jeb told me his heart rate was in the low 50's. Your heart is a muscle and can only beat so many times in a lifespan. I currently hold a resting heart rate in the low to mid 60's. My goal is to lower my heart rate approximately 10 beats per minute. 10 beats per minute, times 60 minutes in an hour, times 24 hours in a day, times 365 days in a year is 5,256,000 beats. This would ultimately put less stress on my heart over the course of a lifetime. I also think these devices would help enhance motivation, by providing encouragement to meet the desired goals. Clients could also have the opportunity to connect with other clients, to engage in some sort of competition; maybe by whoever reached their goal the fastest, or who has improved the most.