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Published on August 18, 2016

athletes using wearable technology

Wearable Tech Helps Track Your Fitness Goals

Today’s wearable tech is encouraging users to get active. Quite popular right now are the FitBit activity and calorie trackers.

Let me start with a little reminder that buying the most expensive FitBit isn’t going to magically make you more fit by burning calories for you. Rather, it’s a motivational tool for behavioral change. Our lives are so busy. Schedules are packed and time is a precious resource. We get so wrapped up in our work and family life that we forget to make time to exercise.

Setting specific goals is absolutely key to making lasting change, and wearable tech serves as a constant reminder of those goals. Tools like a FitBit give you instant feedback as to when you’re meeting those goals – or giving you an extra nudge when you fall short.

For example, a worthy goal is taking 10,000 steps a day, which adds up to about five miles. This should include about 30 minutes of daily exercise that’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you want to lose weight, you might want to consider a goal of even more steps. Thirty minutes of moderate walking equates to about 3,000 steps. But just consider all the other steps you take each day – across the parking lot to your car, dropping off and picking up kids, going up and down the stairs at home carrying laundry or doing other chores, going grocery shopping and more. If you are intentional, it’s not difficult to get those steps in.

To boost your steps, consider a 10-minute walk in the morning, and a 10- or 15-minute walk over your lunch hour. Park farther way, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. When you track your steps, you know how close you are to meeting your goals, and whether you need to add a 20- or 30-minute walk in the evenings (or if you deserve a well-earned opportunity to sit back and relax).

If you are interested in aerobic exercise to boost your heart health, a measure of your heart rate can let you know if you’re exercising safely and effectively. Once again, wearable tech gives you this immediate feedback if your device has those features.

Wearable tech also allows you to monitor your sleep. Each night, it’s important for adults to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep. While wearable tech isn’t as detailed as a sleep study, it does give you a ballpark idea of how much sleep you are currently getting. You might be sleeping less, or more, than you think. Armed with this information, maybe you’ll decide to forego the late-night Netflix binge or develop other improved sleep habits.

Wearable tech can help you be more consistent. For example, it’s pretty common to get excited about a new exercise plan, hit a peak and then begin to fall backward when life gets in the way. A sprained ankle or trip to the Black Hills can throw off your exercise routine, but helpful reminders from a device can help you get back on your fitness routine when life returns to its normal level of chaos.

Many wearable fitness devices give you workout ideas and activity coaching, and reminders or notifications. Your wearable tech can be your own personal fitness coach, right on your wrist.

Being a family practice doctor, I take an interest in the whole patient, not only physical health but also in the mental health and well-being of my patients. So, I welcome questions about wearable tech and any other health-related issue. If you haven’t been in to see your primary care provider during the last 12 months, make an appointment today. Most insurance plans cover an annual wellness exam for each member of your family. When you develop that ongoing relationship, your provider can help you experience the best possible health so you can get the most out of life at any age.

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