Do Activity Trackers Actually Assist in Achieving Fitness Goals?

**Why use an activity tracker?**

Many people are looking to be more active in the coming year, and using an activity tracker can be a helpful tool in achieving this goal. According to research, one of the most powerful predictors of being active is monitoring how active you are. While most people have a vague idea of their activity levels, tracking your activity can provide a more accurate picture and serve as motivation to be more active.

Self-monitoring without an activity tracker, such as by writing down your activities, can be difficult to maintain in the long run and may not be as accurate as using a device that tracks your movements throughout the day. By tracking steps or “activity minutes,” you can determine whether or not you are meeting the physical activity guidelines, which recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. Additionally, an activity tracker allows you to track your progress over time and helps you stay accountable to your personal activity goals.

Research has shown that popular brands of activity trackers are generally reliable in tracking basic measures such as steps and activity minutes. These trackers provide users with valuable information about their daily activity levels and can serve as a helpful tool in increasing physical activity.

**But wait, there’s more**

While activity trackers are effective in tracking basic measures of activity, many devices on the market today also claim to monitor other health and fitness measures. Let’s take a closer look at some of these measures and their significance.

**Resting heart rate**

Resting heart rate is the heart rate when the body is at rest, typically ranging between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Monitoring resting heart rate can be useful, as a lower resting heart rate is associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Activity trackers are generally good at tracking resting heart rate, but it can also be measured by monitoring your pulse and using a stopwatch.

**Heart rate during exercise**

Activity trackers also measure heart rate during exercise. While professional athletes may focus on specific heart rate zones during their training, for general health and activity improvement, it is more important to engage in activity that feels good to you rather than monitoring your heart rate during exercise. Dedicated heart rate monitors with chest straps tend to provide more accurate heart rate measurements compared to wrist-worn activity trackers.

**Maximal heart rate**

Maximal heart rate refers to the highest heart rate during intense exercise and is not influenced by fitness levels or exercise frequency. Most activity trackers do not accurately measure maximal heart rate, so this measure may not be as relevant for the average user.


VO₂max is a measure of the body’s ability to consume oxygen during exercise and is an indicator of fitness levels. Higher VO₂max values are associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality. While activity trackers estimate VO₂max based on running speed and heart rate, these estimates are not very accurate and rely on assumptions. However, consistent increases in estimated VO₂max over time can indicate improved fitness levels.

**The take-home message**

In summary, focusing on tracking steps or activity minutes with a basic activity tracker can be beneficial for most individuals looking to increase their physical activity levels. These trackers provide reliable measurements and help users stay accountable to their goals. However, the additional measures tracked by more advanced activity trackers may not be necessary unless you have specific fitness goals or are highly dedicated to exercise.

Original article: [Thinking of using an activity tracker to achieve your exercise goals? Here’s where it can help and where it probably won’t](

Original Story at – 2024-01-16 03:31:04

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