It seems like more and more people are sporting fitness trackers these days. If you’ve been wearing one for a while or are just now jumping on the bandwagon, you can use it for more than just telling time and counting steps. These devices can also be important tools to help you take steps toward a healthier lifestyle.
Consider these five tips to help you get the most out of your new fitness tracker — and perhaps even help you earn financial rewards.
- Set goals
See how far you walk, run or cycle on a given day and aim to beat it the next time around. Build on your goals gradually to keep up the momentum. Remember to start small, which is more maintainable and gives you a greater chance for success. As your small changes become habits, your habits may become your lifestyle.
- Connect it with your health insurance
Employers and health plans are tapping into wearable technology with wellness programs that can help people obtain a fitness tracker at no or lower cost and help encourage members to stay motivated with rewards. UnitedHealthcare Motion® is one example. Employers must select UnitedHealthcare Motion, so check with your company to determine if you are eligible to participate.
- Find friendly competition
Some apps and wellness programs enable you to share progress with friends or have leaderboards and competitions. These can range from who takes the most steps each day to who ran the furthest. These social and competitive elements may help keep you motivated.
- Don’t rely on the calorie burn
When a workout is complete, it’s satisfying to see how many calories you burned. Remember these aren’t always accurate, so you may want to avoid adding unnecessary calories to your diet because your fitness tracker said you burned them off. You don’t have to throw out the number altogether but perhaps focus in on your heart rate instead. Ideally, you need 30 minutes of activity at 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate at least three times per week. Another potential target to aim for each day is at least 3,000 steps within 30 minutes.
- Be Patient
Don’t shove your fitness tracker in a drawer if results don’t happen overnight. Remember it’s a process, and you may not be able to see the progress you’ve made yet. Go back to tip number one and look at the goals and benchmarks you’ve set and passed. Maybe you are walking further or running a little faster – that’s progress.
Tracking your workouts and counting your steps are just part of your overall health puzzle. By working to get the most out of your fitness tracker, incorporating other healthy choices and making changes based on the data it provides, you may be on your way to living a healthier life.