Gadget guru

We take a look at how wearable technology can enhance and improve your overall fitness

Many of us will have resolved to get fit and embark on a new exercise regime in 2018. But, according to US News, a whopping 80 per cent of us will fail to keep our new year’s resolutions. Staying motivated can be difficult, particularly during the cold winter months, so anything that can keep us on track towards meeting our fitness goals is a big help.

Gadgets such as fitness trackers, heart rate monitors and calorie counters have flooded the market in recent years. And according to Brian Lewis, personal trainer and Product Manager at Powerhouse Fitness (www.powerhouse-fitness.co.uk) they are a great way of maintaining motivation.

“There are plenty of benefits to using a fitness tracker: for example, they help you to set goals and chart your progress,” he says. “But, the biggest advantage we tend to see is that the feedback they provide helps to give users the motivation they need to get out and exercise. Studies have shown that not only can all fitness trackers, from cheap and cheerful pedometers to high tech Fitbits, help to give people the kick they need to get going, they also help to sustain that motivation.”

“These types of gadgets can be incredibly motivating,” adds Katharine Busby of Yes Please Fitness in Newcastle. “It’s very easy to assume or convince yourself that you’re moving quite a bit/getting your heart rate up often enough to gain the associated cardio benefits. Putting on a fitness tracker will let you know for sure – and get you moving more or even taking on something entirely new. Even people who don’t consider themselves very competitive may find that each day they’re trying to up the number of steps they take once they start seeing it on a screen.”

Finding the right model

As fitness trackers have grown in popularity in recent years, there are now plenty of different models on the market. So how do you choose the right model?

“The main factor you should consider is what kind of exercise you’re going to be doing,” says Brian. “For example, if you typically run outdoors you’ll want a tracker with GPS or, if you’re a keen swimmer, you’ll need a model that’s waterproof. Alternatively, if you prefer gentle exercise and are simply looking to increase how much walking you do each day, a basic pedometer will do the job. It’s not just about buying the newest fitness tracker on the market – you need to consider your needs, and choose one accordingly.”

Goals and progress

Whilst fitness trackers can certainly help with motivation, it’s ultimately down to you to put in the hard work.

“Technically, the device itself will not improve your workout,” says Katharine, “but it may help you to improve it yourself. By having a record of your workouts, you’re likely to work harder, run faster, cycle further the next time you do that activity. Plus, some people find the social element of the trackers will also drive them on. Fitbit, for example, have a “community” site where people share and post their results and chat about their goals etc. Being able to see your progress and seeing how far you’ve come can also encourage people to not give up on a regime they’ve started.”

Don’t expect miracles!

Once you have chosen your fitness gadget – whether it’s a fitness tracker, a heart rate monitor or a simple pedometer – don’t get complacent, and don’t expect miracles, says Katharine.

“Just remember that it is a tracker – a measure – you’re still the one who needs to do the activity to be tracked. Rather like gym memberships, sometimes these items are snapped up in a belief that somehow just by buying one the person will suddenly get fitter and healthier. If you want to get the most out of your tracker, wear it all the time and use it daily. Track and record all the data that is relevant and important to you, and keep looking back to see how consistent you’re being. Inaccuracies will occur in most tech, but if you’re using it in the same way each day you will build a bigger picture of your own goals and achievements which can be very rewarding and inspiring.”

Get moving

British people sit for an average of 8.9 hours each day, according to getbritainstanding.org. Our sedentary lifestyles can lead to problems such as a reduced metabolic rate, disrupted blood sugar levels and increased insulin and blood pressure levels. Fortunately, wearable technology is helping serve as a useful reminder to keep moving and spend less time sitting.

“Some of the watches can be set up to beep at the wearer if they’ve been sitting for a long time, to remind them to get going,” says Katharine. “When you’re in the middle of a meeting at work, this might not be entirely welcome, but overall it will remind you why you’re wearing the tech and why you bought it in the first place.”

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