Fitness Trackers – Essential fitness tech or waste of money?

In today’s world, being fit and healthy has become an obsession for many. Let’s face it, we all have a few pounds we’d like to shed or some added muscle toning to help us feel better about ourselves. Along with this fitness marketing blitz,  the fitness & health tracker industry has blown up. Saturated with new fitness tech that make all manner of claims from logical to the outrageous.

Yet, that one burning question remains. Are fitness & health trackers worth your hard earned money? Do they actually help you get fit and healthy? Are you just donating money to another large tech company that has figured out a way to lodge itself in your brain without any actual proof that they work?

Let’s look at the fitness tracker landscape for a second.

Popular brands such as FitBit, Garmin and even the Apple Watch will tell you all about how their device is the ONE you need to reach your fitness goals. From heart rate monitors, GPS logging, real time activity statistics, sleep data, and any other stats you can think of when it comes to fighting your way to fitness. There are even new devices out there such as the Helo LX Health Tracker from MLM company Wor(l)d,  which boasts features such as helping you monitor blood pressure, ECG, breath rates and mood & energy levels. Not to mention their upcoming planned features such as Blood Glucose Measurement, Mosquito Shield, Oxygenation, Ovulation Prediction, Flu Detection and even Pulse Diagnostic (Chinese Medicine). Where does it end?

Bottom line is that you, as a consumer,  have a TON of options out there when it comes to that perfect tracker, it’s up to you to decide which one is the right one for your needs. But do they work and are they worth the money?

Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash

How about a brief personal case study, shall we?

Back in 2015 I found myself at my absolute largest I’ve ever been. At 6’2″ I was crushing the scales at an alarming 340lbs and I needed to do something about it. Along with some dietary changes I did some research and decided to pick up the FitBit Charge HR. At the time it was the brand new release for FitBit and I read some great reviews including how useful the HR(Heart Rate) monitoring features could be. So I kindly handed FitBit my cash and strapped this wonder device to my wrist.

Then I began the process of getting to work with exercise, changing my eating lifestyle and through it all becoming obsessed with logging info into the FitBit app that spit out all of these wonderful stats about how many calories I had burned, my sleep patterns, my heart rates through the day and so many other great nuggets of wisdom that had me ultra motivated to keep working harder.

Fast forward about 5 months and I was reaching the fitness goals I had set for myself and was down to about 240lbs. I still had work to do but I was in a good routine. Worse, the constant stream of stats I loved so much at the beginning had become a nuisance. I got sick of having to log meals in the app and eventually I took it off and hardly looked at it again.

Photo by Mitchell Hollander on Unsplash

Ok cool, they aren’t worth the money?

Not so fast. This is where the fitness tracker industry has shown it’s true genius. My personal opinion is that fitness trackers can be an incredibly useful tool for those new to structured workout routines or in the beginning stages of their fitness and weight loss journey. They help you automate so much of the confidence boosting information that you otherwise probably would never do.

Early on in my journey it was much more of a mental game than a physical one. In my younger days I was an athlete, I played high school and college football, baseball and spent many hours in the weight room training. I was used to having the mindset of feeling motivated about a good workout. When I started that journey I would struggle because I had forgotten how good it felt to work out hard and get a good sweat going. I was so self conscious about other people seeing me a just another fat dude out of breath and sweaty that I needed that extra motivation that I received from my FitBit.

It really helped me regain that competitive spirit within myself, it was that drive that would happen when I saw I was just  1000 steps away from hitting 15,000 steps that day. That urge to want to say I walked a full 3 miles that evening instead of just 2.6 miles. I truly loved being able to log my food intake and have it all calculated to show where I was at in the burned calories vs calories consumed department.

It didn’t do the work for me, I was the one pushing and sweating, but it absolutely helped me over that initial getting motivated and sticking with it phase. But when the results started showing and things had moved from forcing myself to stick to this “new” workout routine into a more “normal” daily routine I found that I just didn’t need the added hassle of wearing it.

Photo by Autumn Goodman on Unsplash

So,  you’re saying they ARE worth the money then?

Yes, mostly.

If you are new to fitness or are trying to hold on to that New Years Resolution to finally get yourself in shape, fitness trackers could help you tremendously on the mental side of the game. Any edge you can give yourself that will help you feel that sense of accomplishment when you aren’t physically seeing any changes yet is well worth it. Just don’t spend a fortune on the top of the line models, you don’t really need all the bells and whistles…probably.

If you workout regularly and keep to a solid routine, you likely don’t need a tracker. At your stage it’s more of a status type of item than anything that actually benefits your fitness goals. Let’s be honest, it’s cool to show off that fancy Apple Watch to your friends.

If you are training for something specific, a marathon for example, then absolutely spend the money and buy that highly specialized tracker that will help you train effectively. Let’s face it though, this category isn’t where most normal people sit so your mileage may vary.

Do you have any thoughts or experience with fitness trackers? A favorite product you love? A horror story of a time you wasted a ton of money on a tracker you never used? We’d love to hear from you so let us know down in the comments!

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

Full disclosure – we here at digitalSoup are not doctors and do not give any medical advice. This is strictly an opinion piece and the information should be regarded as opinion not medical advice.

 

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Dave Szweduik

Usually Dave is a co-host of digitalSoup, a photographer, outdoorsman, and all around geek!

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