Fitness has been trendy even before yesterday. So there are many philosophies and possibilities to pursue the dream of the perfect body. From classic solutions such as diets and approaches such as targeted training plans to modern and technical solutions, there is almost everything that promises success. Fitness trackers prove that modern and technical solutions in particular do not have to be so complicated and expensive, and that they even offer practical help. Not only can alternative methods such as expensive trainers or programs be successfully saved, but at the same time every aspect of everyday life can be evaluated with regard to its impact on fitness.
1. Important Equipment Features
1.1 Fit & Material
The fitness band must fit perfectly, because this aspect is central to wearing comfort. This can quickly become a problem especially for overweight users who have the goal of losing a lot of weight, but large fitness bands are also important for other people who have wide wrists. On the other hand, a wristband that is too loose is a big problem for some users and makes wearing uncomfortable and the measuring functions inaccurate. Such problems can occur with fixed sizes, especially if they are inflexible. An alternative that can help here is the length settings, which are also standard on many models.
In addition to the fit, the choice of materials used by the manufacturer is not entirely unimportant, depending on the area of application. It’s about wearing comfort, because some materials can be disturbing, especially during sports activities. Plastics are therefore nowadays also the standard for the fit of most models. Such materials are also characterized by a relatively low weight, which should not exceed a few dozen grams. A last important aspect, which can also be traced back to materials, is robustness. In addition to direct impacts such as shocks, many fitness trackers can also cope with certain water depths without any problems.
1.2 App Services Handling
The versatile equipment and services are of course of little use if they cannot be accessed sensibly. In general, almost every user nowadays has a terminal device such as computers or smartphones, and the corresponding apps that allow access are designed precisely for these terminals. However, customers must ensure compatibility. Especially in the area of smartphones, problems can occur, since different operating systems such as Android, iOS or Windows Phones differ and not every provider of fitness trackers has corresponding apps for the operating systems. They are usually used on the computer via web apps.
The Bluetooth transmission system is integrated so that the data obtained from the activity tracker can also be successfully transmitted to the smartphone. The connection can usually be established with a few pushes of a button and then remains in place even over a distance of several metres. With good devices, both live transmission and transmission of data that has already been collected is possible. More recent versions of Bluetooth also stand for better technical features.
1.4 Display or LEDs
Of course, it is particularly interesting to have access to the most important data already during the sporting activity and at any time. This is offered by those fitness wristbands that have real displays. These are often colorful and offer the important details through high resolutions. It must also be clear, however, that such designs can cost a lot and that only the higher-class models are usually equipped in this way. LED screens offer a somewhat cheaper alternative. These are designed more like classic digital wrist watches and offer significantly less extensive details, but are much cheaper.
2. The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Fitness Tracker
2.1 Measuring Goals and Successes
Fitness trackers are of course not the miracle product that leads to the desired fitness results on its own and without any further effort – but that is not the claim of fitness bands, which is why there are some advantages in any case. Thus, there is great help in setting and adhering to goals. The goals are different and range from losing weight to gaining weight, the so-called mass build-up. Thus the fitness bands manage to achieve comparability by measuring calories, steps and many other units of measurement and increase the motivation to take extra steps.
This comparability is not only related to the user himself, but can also lead to mutual motivation boosts with friends and acquaintances. Overall, activity trackers bring significantly more control to everyday and sporting activities and thus improve the fitness of users.
2.2 Always This Data Protection
Of course, there are also some concerns that stand in the way of these effects. However, they tend to go in other directions and are less about success. Of course, this is not guaranteed, but every user must be aware of this fact. Rather, it is about aspects such as data protection, since a large amount of personal data is collected and the risks can never be completely excluded here. And the radiation is also often considered questionable, as fitness trackers can be worn 24 hours a day, unlike other devices such as Bluetooth headphones. Whether there really are dangers here is not finally known, since meaningful studies are missing and also experts are disagreed.
Other health risks can occur due to plasticizers, especially in favorable models, and have already been proven in some places. Last but not least, some models have disadvantages in the optical field, but at the same time there are many design possibilities, so that the „question of style“ should not be prioritized too high.
3. Useful Functions
3.1 Calorie Burn Tracking
If one of the most important goals of using fitness trackers is to measure calorie burn. Although the daily calorie consumption can be estimated to some extent, the actual measurement offers more safety and allows food intake to be adjusted accordingly. This also applies when the aim is to build up mass. Nevertheless, the results should be treated with caution and should in no way be understood as final and absolute. Every body is different and the fitness trackers are not able to include these differences across the board.
3.2 Blood Pressure Monitor
One function that has particular health benefits is the measurement of blood pressure – a value that becomes increasingly important with increasing age and can provide information about changed lifestyles, for example. Particularly higher-value variants have corresponding functions.
3.3 Blood Oxygen Monitor
The saturation of blood oxygen is also an interesting value that offers particular health benefits. For example, there are now at least some devices here that provide information about the value and point out possible hazardous deviations. For most healthy users, however, such a function is not absolutely necessary.
3.4 Heart Rate Monitor
An important function that is of great importance not only for health but also for sport itself is the heart rate. It is important that monitoring can bring safety and protect the body from overload. Special training methods, such as resting phases based on heart rate, are also covered by such functions. Consequently, heart rate measurement has become an integral part of almost all fitness trackers and is an absolute standard.
With the height measurement, fitness wristbands can also collect data that are not related to the body itself. With the help of this information, users can, for example, check height meters covered and, apart from that, always have an interesting function at hand.
During the warm and cold seasons, measuring the body temperature during sports can provide information about potential dangers, especially for advanced athletes. Overheating and subcooling must be avoided and corresponding hazards must be predicted. However, constant monitoring of body temperature is also helpful in everyday life, when there is a threat of illness.
A further parameter that is particularly decisive for sporting progress is the GPS. This makes it possible to determine one’s own position at any time. Running distances throughout the day or in certain times can be monitored and consequences such as the increase in performance can be well monitored and compared.
3.8 Alarm Clock
Another function that can be particularly useful in everyday life is an alarm function. This can be helpful in the morning routine as well as during activities such as cooking. However, since the connection to the smartphone is almost always available anyway, the alarm clock is only really necessary in a few situations and is more of a practical gadget.
4. Areas of Application
In principle, of course, almost every sport can be performed with activity trackers, provided that no dangers or disturbing factors arise from their use. Nevertheless, users are targeting four different sports in which the fitness bands are used again and again. These are sports that focus on endurance or strength endurance and therefore often cover long distances. We are talking about riding, swimming, running and cycling. It is also striking that these are primarily sports in which aspects such as endurance and physical performance are well measurable and important. Consequently, the trackers can reach their full potential there.
5. Important Manufacturers
One company that specializes exclusively in trackers and has its absolute strengths here is the US company Fitbit. Thanks to their specialization, they are characterized by a wide variety of software and offer products ranging from the simplest trackers to high-tech products.
The Swiss manufacturer Garmin is actually less known for the fitness trackers and more for navigation devices. Garmin’s activity trackers, which are offered together with other gadgets and wearables for outdoor activities, prove that this is nowhere near that far technically.
One company that is now known for all kinds of products is Huawei. Originating in China, the company offers a wide range of telecommunications equipment and is a leader in smartphones and tablets in particular. In the meantime, however, there are already several fitness trackers in different price ranges.
All in all, Jawbone is a little less known, but by no means to be forgotten on the market of fitness trackers. In fact, only wearables are offered in the entire product range, which is the manufacturer’s main focus. Activity trackers are thus part of the core business.
Finland is the country of origin of Polar Electro. They have become particularly well known through advances in the field of wireless heart monitors. Meanwhile, Polar’s product portfolio also includes a number of fitness trackers in the low and higher price range.
6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I Use a Fitness Tracker During Pregnancy?
The question of the usability of trackers during pregnancy is difficult to answer. On the one hand, there is an extensive discussion about the risk of radiation and opinions differ widely, which is why there are no conclusive results and the decision must be made at one’s own discretion. However, some caution is needed with regard to the measured values, as the fitness trackers provide important data, but should not be used for important decisions, especially during pregnancy.
Can I Use the Fitness Tracker Without a Smartphone?
The basic functions can be used with many models, provided that they have the appropriate keys for operation. However, the real tracking activities often only come to light and become really useful when the smartphone supports it. Some devices also offer almost unlimited possibilities if they are linked to the computer.
Is the Radiation From the Tracker Dangerous?
There are no clear findings regarding the potential dangers of radiation, but similar devices such as headphones and smartphones generally also use Bluetooth technology.
Does the Health Insurance Pay a Subsidy When I Buy a Tracker?
In principle, there are some health insurance companies that encourage you to buy with a small subsidy. In this case, however, certain rules often go hand in hand with the subsidy. However, since both the general subsidy and the rules differ from cash register to cash register, individual demand makes sense.
Different Steps on the Smartphone and Fitness Tracker – What Can Be the Reason?
There can be several reasons for the differences. On the one hand, the measurements are probably not 100 percent accurate anyway for both devices and minimal measurement errors almost always occur. If the errors differ here, there are small differences. But the position on the body also plays a role. For example, while the smartphone is just in your pocket for long periods of time or may even be lying around, the tracker accompanies every movement and may also evaluate other movements as steps.
Is There a Fitness Tracker for Children?
Yes, some suppliers have developed special variants for children, which are adapted to the smaller arm sizes, for example.