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Today in Health & Wellness
FITNESS AND FUEL

Wearable Fitness Trackers

"Track your fitness anywhere, anytime!"
By: James BarramedaWearable Fitness Trackers

Today, complex and real-time technical information can suddenly be accessed by virtually anybody who can afford to buy these portable and wearable fitness trackers (which by the way have become more and more affordable with the introduction of Asian manufacturers). Let’s check out the different types of wearable fitness gadgets and devicesavailable in the market today:

Pedometers

Pedometers are portable devices that basically count your steps. Earlier versions of these gadgets simply give you a real time count of steps, but the fancier, later models also measure other step-related info like calories burned and total distance covered.

So how can pedometers monitor all these information? This device that you wear on your belt does this by counting the electronic pulses in each step that you make and multiplying them by your step length or “stride”.  Pedometers aren’t always accurate, as there may be certain movements that can be interpreted as steps – like picking up something from the floor or if you keep swinging your office chair while seated.

Heart rate monitors

Another fitness gadget that many runners and cyclists own. These are mostly wristbands with a display that shows your heart rate information in beats per minute or BPM during cardiovascular activities like running, biking, or climbing. There are generally 2 types of heart rate monitors – those that come with a chest strap that sends information to the wrist display, and pulse monitors that require the wearer to place his finger on a certain spot to take his pulse. Both types can provide real-time data on how intense and efficiently a person is exercising.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person's target heart rate in a moderate-intensity exercise should be 50-70 % of his maximum heart rate.  Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age, this is according to the American Heart Association.

Sports watches and Smart devices

Fitness gadgets that combine features of a pedometer, a heart rate monitor, a GPS locator, a thermometer, a weather prediction system, an oxygen tracker…oh and yeah, some can also tell the time!Sports watches and wearable smart devices have been designed to assist athletes and enthusiasts alike in their chosen sport or outdoor activity. There are sports watches and smart devices for mountain climbers, scuba divers, runners, swimmers, and many other activities. 

The more recently released smart devicescan also send, receive or sync information real time to other devices such as a smart phone either via bluetooth, infrared or via wifi. These wrist-worn devices can run several applications just like a computer, play music, play videos, and even stream radio wirelessly to your headphones while tracking your exercise progress all at the same time!

Smartphones

Mobile phones have gone a long way from the basic call and text tool. With stiff competition in the smartphone industry today, manufacturers have been constantly challenged to release more and more powerful mini-supercomputers that can combine all the features you can possibly think of in one small device.

Fitness tracking is just a small part of what a smartphone can do, thanks to the plethora of mobile applications that you can download and install. There are fitness applications that can  sync your other fitness gadgets to an online account (with an internet connection), apps that can serve as fitness trackers themselves (thanks to your phone’s own GPS and internal movement sensors), apps that can demonstrate exercise routines and forms step by step, apps that can calculate all sorts of values based on entering  your basic bio-data info, and even apps that can incentivise your fitness achievements  and milestones!

You can also think of this handy dandy gadget as your own personal coach who can alert you constantly during your workout. Imagine having a virtual companion to update you each time you complete a lap or give a quick pep talk on your last kilometer to help you finish strong. Some apps can even choose your song playlist so that your music beat increases as you gain intensity during your workout. 

Gadgets = Fitness?

Can these state-of-the-art devices really help you achieve your fitness goals? One thing’s for sure: at the end of the day… it’s all you. No matter how much money you spend on all these gadgets, you won’t burn a single calorie if you don’t get up and move. 

One can also argue that our grandfathers never had access to these complicated tools and yet they were still able to set Olympic records on their own...so why should you need one? Well, if it gives younewfound motivation to exercise, that’s good enough a reason for me!

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