Measure, manage & motivate: how fitness trackers can help

Aug 18, 2013

Do you ever wonder how many steps you’ve taken in a day or how many calories you’ve burned off on the treadmill? Do you wish you could have someone make sure you get out of bed and to the gym?  This week on “Take Care,” we talk to Jennifer Jolly, an Emmy-winning consumer technology journalist and host of USA Today’s “TechNow,” about the newest trend in working out – fitness trackers.

Click 'Read More' to hear our interview with Jennifer Jolly.

Some people may think that technology keeps people on the couch, but Jolly says that the rising market for fitness trackers shows that people want to use it to get up and stay fit.

“It’s no surprise with the wearable tech trends that we have going on in the country and in the world right now that it’s all about how can we use this incredible technology to get us healthier,” she said.

Fitness gadgets have three functions, Jolly says, to measure, manage and motivate. A gadget can measure anything from steps, caloric intake, heart rate, mood and stress. In order to better manage your fitness, Jolly said it’s important to make sure you can understand the way a fitness tracker presents that information.

“A lot of studies have shown that in order to manage your life you have to measure it,” Jolly said.

Many trackers can even send the information it collects to your computer or smartphone.

So how tech savvy do you need to be to use one of these? The answer, Jolly said, is not very. There are models that are very user-friendly and others that might require an engineering mindset to understand. Jolly says it’s best to get one that you can operate without looking at the maintenance manuel.

For those “couch potatoes” just trying to get up and do some exercise, Jolly recommends the following gadgets:

  • Fitbit Flex: the small wrist band (that comes in a variety of colors) is super simple to use, Jolly says. It tracks your fitness and your sleep and it even uses LED lights to indicate if you should be moving more than you are
  • Bodymedia Core Armband: the armband tracks 5,000 data points every minute, Jolly says, adding that it’s very simple to use. Worn on your upper arm, it can sync up to your smartphone or computer
  • Nike + FuelBand: this band can sync up to your iPhone to help you set a goal and stick to it. The band also comes in three different colors
  • Larklife Wristband: this wrist band uses LED lights to motivate you to get up and get out while tracking your eating, working out and sleep
  • Jawbone Up: this healthy wristband comes in cool colors and sends information straight to your iPhone

Jolly said that there are studies done by the Consumers Electronics Association that show that tracking can help people achieve their fitness goals. And it’s clear there is no shortage of options.