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Published on May 04, 2015

Can Activity Trackers Help You Live Longer?

May 04, 2015

Couple holding hands wearing activity trackersThe latest wave of activity trackers keep tabs on how much you move, sleep and even sweat. Are they a passing fitness fad, or a way to help you live a longer, healthier life?

Activity trackers come in all shapes, sizes and price points—from advanced models that cost hundreds of dollars to simple $20 pedometers and free apps for your phone—but the principle behind how and why they work is the same.

Track for Good

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Health Institutes recommend tracking your food and water intake and activity levels as a good way to get or stay well.

Tracking keeps you accountable, shines a light on areas that could be improved, and makes it easier to see the progress and changes that you’ve made even before weight loss is visible.

Many trackers also allow customizable goal setting—whether it’s the number of steps you take per day or how often you are active. The benefits of clearly defined goals for weight loss are well established. The National Institutes of Health Aim for a Healthy Weight program recommends setting goals that are specific, attainable and forgiving—something trackers can help you with.

Many trackers link users to a built-in social network of like-minded people via mobile applications or websites. That’s something that keeping tabs of your workouts on a piece of paper simply can’t offer.

Research published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health showed that technology-based weight-loss interventions with a built-in social support system were more effective than interventions without support networks.

Looking Ahead

Despite many benefits, activity trackers do have limitations. Only a doctor can help you decide if you are healthy enough to begin a weight loss plan.

Each individual’s situation and needs are unique and may not always be easily met with a tracker. And trackers are only effective if users use them to make positive adjustments to their behaviors. Tracking bad behaviors doesn’t change them.

Still, these devices do show promise as sources of inspiration, information and support. Those benefits may be particularly helpful to people living with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and those participating in rehabilitation after surgery or diagnosis.

These individuals need to closely monitor what they eat and how active they are. Some trackers even allow users to send reports directly to a medical professional or to print out reports to review during appointments.

The impact mobile technology may have on chronic health conditions and the obesity epidemic has yet to be fully determined, but the potential is there to accomplish great things.

Three Trackers to Check Out

Fitbit Charge
Track distance, stairs, sleep, calories and steps, set daily goals, and sync with popular apps like MyFitnessPal with this $130 wristband tracker.

Jawbone UP Move
This cost-effective tracker can be clipped onto clothes, snapped into a wristband or slipped into a pocket, where it tracks your calories, steps and sleep. It costs $49.

Microsoft Band
A cool $200 will get you a splash-proof tracker with built-in GPS (a must-have for runners). It connects to the Microsoft Health app and is compatible with Windows, Android and iOS devices.

Our fitness classes offer great opportunities to move. Exercise with us today!

Sources: ncbi.nlm.nih.govncbi.nlm.nih.govjmir.orgdiabetes.orgeurekalert.orgapta.org

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